A team with local ties was picked Monday to design and construct the first building on the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center campus.
The Richland Public Facilities District board chose DGR Grant Construction of Richland and Terence L. Thornhill Architect of Pasco from a pool of three finalists.
A contract still must be negotiated. The budget for design and construction is about $3.35 million.
Richard Richter, president of DGR Grant, said the team looks forward to starting the next phase.
"Now the work begins," he said.
Lisa Toomey, the Reach center's chief executive officer, called the selection "a defining moment" and said it marks "the beginning of the fulfillment of our commitment to ... deliver on a promise made over 10 years ago."
She thanked board members, Reach staff, city officials, donors and community members "who have come back to help us with money, time and materials, as well as their ideas."
"We look forward to working with you in the coming year to assure that what is on the inside is as impressive as what is on the outside," Toomey said during the afternoon meeting.
Fred Raab, president of the public facilities board, added that "we'll have something the community can be proud of when we get it built."
Officials toasted with sparkling cider after the vote.
Construction of the building is expected to start in June and wrap up around March. The nearly 12,000-square-foot facility will include a great hall, a multipurpose room and two galleries, among other features. It also will have a 10,000-square-foot basement.
The board's action marks a milestone in the long effort to build an interpretive center to tell the story of the Mid-Columbia. The project has been hampered by delays -- first when it became apparent the preferred site wouldn't meet federal criteria, and then when fundraising efforts stalled as the site issue was worked out and the recession set in.
The interpretive center now is planned for the west end of Columbia Park.
The board's vote Monday was 3-0, with board members Dan Boyd and Steve Simmons abstaining because of professional ties to some finalists.
Another milestone in the project likely will happen today. The Richland City Council is set to consider approving the contractor for site work, which will include extending water and sewer infrastructure to the site.
During Monday's meeting, board members praised the firms that submitted proposals.
"I appreciate the amount of hard work and effort that went into this on the part of everybody," Rick Jansons said. "There are so many things I liked from all of them. It was a hard process."
He said he looks forward to "a great, inviting building."
-- Reporter Michelle Dupler contributed to this story.
-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald