THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority have announced that Duplantis Design Group has been hired to design the Coastal Center.
Today’s announcement officially sets in motion the facility formation phase of the $14.5 million project. Announced in 2019 by Gov. John Bel Edwards, the planned 33,000-square foot building should go out to bid by the end of the year with construction following the bid process. The building will be located at the corner of Acadia Drive and Ordoyne Drive, across from Calecas Hall.
“As the state university that is geographically ‘closest to the coast,’ Nicholls is at the epicenter of our coastal land loss crisis and is ideally situated to host this Coastal Center and educate the next generation of leaders in this field,” said Chip Kline, CPRA chairman and executive assistant to the governor for coastal activities. “This joint venture between CPRA and Nicholls could not come at a better time as we are seeing record interest and investment in coastal projects across our state. We look forward to watching this concept become a reality in the very near future.”
A 5,000-square foot state-of-the-art coastal exhibit area will be dedicated to ongoing coastal restoration efforts in Southeast Louisiana. The collaborative space will allow for scientists from all over the state, including those from CPRA, the Water Institute of the Gulf and Nicholls biological sciences and geomatics departments, to work together to identify solutions to repair and rebuild the state’s receding coastline. Research will primarily focus on the Atchafalaya River and Terrebonne Basin.
The Coastal Center will work directly with the Bayou Region Incubator to help create jobs and small businesses specific to the Bayou community, and the Nicholls Farm as a way to test the real-world application of the center’s coastal research.
“Duplantis Design Group helped create our campus master plan and their experience in the Bayou Region makes them uniquely qualified for this project. With support from Lafourche Parish Government, they also completed the conceptual design rendering. We are very happy with the selection of DDG to work with us on what will be an iconic building on our campus,” said Dr. Jay Clune, Nicholls President. “When Nicholls was founded in 1948, we were 50 miles from the Gulf Coast. Today, we are 24 miles away. We are the closest Louisiana university to the Gulf, so we have more at stake in this fight to save our coast.”
The Terrebonne Basin has the highest rate of coastal land loss in the state with more than 30,000 acres of wetlands lost since 1932. Meanwhile, the Atchafalaya Basin gained 4,000 acres of wetlands while every other basin in the state has lost land.
Louisiana loses a football field of coastal islands and wetlands every 100 minutes and has experienced more coastal land loss than any other state in the nation since 1930 with more than 1,800 square miles turned to open water.
“Coastal restoration and protection are of the utmost importance, now more than ever,” said Sen. Brett Allain. “I am quite proud and humbled to have been supportive of the Coastal Center – from initial discussions through the capital outlay process and ensuring Nicholls would be its epicenter. This Center will lend aid to research efforts for our coastline while creating jobs for the people of our great state. It’s my absolute pleasure to be a part of this initiative.”
In addition to research and development, the Coastal Center will also serve as a publicly accessible educational resource. An exhibit space within the building will display coastal research and facts for community visitors. Flexible meeting spaces will hold conferences and community events. And research labs will be strategically positioned to create a central hub that combines the processes of ongoing research projects with new ideas and planned initiatives.
“DDG is humbled and honored to continue our collaboration with Nicholls and CPRA on such a significant project for our community and for the state of Louisiana,” said Matthew Newchurch, DDG president. “While our architecture team is eager to design a first-class facility in our own backyard, our firm also has a vested interest in the Center’s curriculum and research efforts. Through DDG’s Coastal Engineering Division, we will be seeking out the talents of the students educated in this facility, thereby enhancing this area’s workforce and strengthening coastal restoration and protection efforts for our state.”
DDG is a multidisciplinary firm offering architecture, civil engineering, coastal engineering, landscape architecture and surveying services. Headquartered in Thibodaux, the firm also has five other offices across Louisiana and Texas. DDG has 24 years of experience managing every aspect of a project. From the initial site assessment and due diligence through the project’s substantial completion, the firm’s team of design professionals pride themselves not only on the technical aspects of a project but also on their ability to focus on exceeding a clients’ expectations and providing top-rated client satisfaction.