Marine center near completion

Research Institute slated for Jan. 8 move-in

Posted: Monday, October 09, 2006

The Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute at Lena Point is nearing completion, with a likely move-in date set for Jan. 8, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration officials said Friday.

"It is such a cool place. The building looks fabulous - we are excited about moving," said Steve Ignell, deputy director of the NOAA Auke Bay laboratory.

The new 65,000-square-foot research center houses a laboratory that will replace the agency's current facilities at Auke Bay. Construction of

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the center began in July 2005 and was originally slated to be completed in early December of this year.

"I think (construction) has been going very well. We are in our final countdown," said Del Bishop, vice president for J.E. Dunn, the Seattle-based construction company contracted for the job.

Bishop said the building will be ready for a final walk-through with the new owners Nov. 1.

The total budget for the project was estimated at $51 million, Ingall said. While the final tally has yet to be done, Ignell said he believes the costs will fall within the allotted budget.

About half the building is offices while the other half comprises labs. Bishop said it is a complicated building because of its scientific nature.

"In that regard it has been pretty challenging, but gratifying," he said.

NOAA will still use the Auke Bay center, but part of it will be leased to a host of government agencies in need of expansion, Ingall said.

During spring of 2007, more construction will begin at Lena Point when the University of Alaska Fairbanks starts work on its proposed academic and research center. UAF operates its School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences work out of Juneau.

While the projects are separate, there has been collaboration between the two because some aspects - such as a gravity-powered 100,000-gallon seawater system for research - will be shared, Ignell said.

"We're close collaborators," he said. "Many of the people who work at the Auke Bay lab are graduate students. There are a number of joint research projects that we work together on."

The seawater system is necessary in the research center because flowing water is required at all times to maintain experiments and wildlife, Bishop said.

The university project is anticipated to cost nearly $23 million, with half of the funding coming from a measure passed by the Alaska Legislature in 2005.

The company contracted to build that project is the Anchorage office branch of the Kiewit Corp., a construction and mining firm.

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at

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