A conceptual design, construction and architectural team has been selected to build the wine science center in the Tri-Cities Research District in Richland.
Lydig Construction and ALSC Architects, both of Spokane, will build the 39,300-square foot building at the corner of George Washington Way and University Drive near Washington State University Tri-Cities' Richland campus.
The Wine Science Center Development Authority plans to break ground on the project, estimated to cost $23 million, this August.
Officials said the process to design and build the center, which is intended to work on challenges and opportunities facing the state's growing wine industry, has been a long one.
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However, that should mean fewer bumps through construction and ensure the center meets the needs it's meant to address, they said.
"It's a really big step for us and the project," said Gary Ballew, economic development manager with the city of Richland and the authority.
The center is a collaboration between many groups and individuals, from the city of Richland and Port of Benton to the university and the wine industry. Design work began last year, with a committee looking at proposals from three contractor-architect teams earlier this spring.
Lydig's and ALSC's design incorporates classrooms, state-of-the-art research laboratories, conference rooms, a research and teaching winery, and a regional and international wine library, along with views of the university campus and nearby Columbia River.
Officials said the review process by a select committee was deliberative and careful.
"They're not glossing over anything; they're going into every single detail," said Steve Warner, CEO and president of the Washington State Wine Commission.
Diahann Howard, the port's director of economic development and executive director for the research district, said the center will be a crucial addition to the area for its focus on agriculture and technology.
"From the port's perspective, it's just an iconic structure," she told the Herald. "For us, this is a major gateway into the research park."
Architectural plans still have to be finalized, but that isn't the only remaining hurdle. Money still is being raised to finance the project, with $18 million pledged so far from the wine commission, a state legislative grant, a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and numerous corporate and private contributions.
Officials said they are optimistic the project will be completed on time -- by July 2014 -- and be ready to serve the wine industry, the region and the state.
"The Lydig and ALSC team has a proven and excellent reputation of successfully delivering design-build projects and we look forward to working with them on this exciting project," said Rob McKinney, the wine center authority's chairman, in a release.