The Audubon Commission has awarded a $7 million construction contract to BelouMagner Construction of Metairie to restore the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center after it was decimated by Hurricane Katrina.
The centre opened in 1980, offering its 85, 000 annual visitors a scenic interpretation of the Mississippi River Delta and Louisiana Coastal Zone. It has been closed since the storm which left the facility under six feet of water and destroyed all of its interpretive spaces.
Work can now start on restoring and improving the 86 acre site in Joe Brown Park, New Orleans.
President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute, Ron Forman, commented: “All of us at Audubon Nature Institute are excited to be part of the many wonderful things happening in New Orleans East. We look forward to working side by side with the community to make this facility a must-see destination for locals and visitors alike.’’
Billes Partners is the architect for the project which aims to introduce Louisiana and Gulf Coast families to the wonders of the fragile ecosystems that are on their doorstep. Phase 1 will reinstate some of the centre’s previously popular features including a planetarium, an 8, 500-square-foot Exhibit Pavilion, a glass and steel greenhouse Botany Centre, interactive educational exhibits and a network of trails and covered boardwalks.
The city of New Orleans has already begun a major redevelopment of Joe Brown Park, restoring recreational areas and adding two new stadiums for high school football and track. The reborn Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, a key part of the master plan for the area, is scheduled to open in 2016.