The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center will be taking a step closer to the realizing of the new visitor's center when it picks an architect on March 17. -- Eric Johnson
The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center will be taking a step closer to the realizing of the new visitor's center when it picks an architect on March 17. -- Eric Johnson

Closer to a new home: Nature Center to select architect for visitor center project

Published 10:25am Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jay C. Hormel Nature Center officials will take a big step toward a new visitor center in less than two weeks.

The Friends of the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center will choose one of five potential architects to create conceptual designs and help determine where a replacement Visitor Center should be built on March 17.

“We’re moving forward,” Nature Center Executive Director Larry Dolphin said.

Dolphin said the Friends of the Nature Center will contribute $300,000 for the architectural firm’s design phase. With any luck, according to Dolphin, Nature Center officials will be able to show residents plans during the Nature Center’s project fundraising campaign kickoff on Earth Day, April 22.

“We’ll be giving people something to look at, and something to donate to,” Dolphin said.

Nature Center assistant Julie Champlin talks with Quin Brunner in the office of the Visitor Center at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Tuesday. -- Eric Johnson
Nature Center assistant Julie Champlin talks with Quin Brunner in the office of the Visitor Center at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Tuesday. — Eric Johnson

The current visitor center was dedicated in 1975, yet the building is in the Austin Municipal Airport’s flight path, which means nothing can be built or rebuilt on that building. Electrical problems found last summer concerned nature center officials and spurred research on a new building.

Nature Center officials will look at potential exhibits on natural history, conservation and other subjects inside the new visitor center as well.

“We don’t want to build a building and have nothing in it,” Dolphin said.

The project could get started as soon as 2016, though Dolphin said construction could be pushed back to 2017 depending on how soon the nature center raises donations. The project is estimated at $3.5 to $4.5 million, but Dolphin said the architect would help determine the project’s scope and costs. The new visitor center will also use as many energy saving concepts as possible to become sustainable.


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