Ground Breaking of the New Water Institute of the Gulf Research and Conference Center

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and President and CEO Charles “Chip” Groat of The Water Institute of the Gulf joined Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden, President and CEO John Davies of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and LSU President F. King Alexander in breaking ground for the construction of the $22.4 million Water Institute of the Gulf Research and Conference Center along the Mississippi River, between downtown Baton Rouge and LSU.

To be built at the site of Baton Rouge’s former municipal dock, the elevated three-story structure will extend over the river, providing a plaza surrounding the structure for unprecedented public viewing of the Mississippi River beyond the levee. The centerpiece of the structure will be The Water Institute of the Gulf, which will occupy offices on the first and second floors of the 34,000-square-foot structure. On the third floor, a major conference space will play host to academic conventions, research conferences and public meetings and hearings, all focused on the preservation of Louisiana’s coast, and related efforts worldwide. Applied research projects of the 4-year-old Water Institute of the Gulf are taking place on a global scale and will inform major public policy decisions and public works projects in Louisiana, along the Gulf Coast and around the world.

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The Water Institute headquarters joins two other facilities under construction nearby – the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority headquarters and the LSU Center for River Studies – as anchors of the 35-acre Water Campus that eventually will be home to an estimated 1.2 million square feet of commercial office, retail, restaurant, hospitality and residential space, along with an estimated 4,000 direct and indirect jobs between Nicholson Drive and the river.

Governor Jindal said, “Here at the foot of the Interstate 10 bridge on the Mississippi River, where millions of drivers pass each year, we are developing a world-class campus of water management research, development and project activity. This new Water Institute of the Gulf headquarters will serve as the centerpiece of our efforts to glean innovative new applications that can be put to work in the protection and restoration of Louisiana’s coastline. We will not only be providing invaluable assistance to our state, but we will become a magnet for water management research worldwide and we will lay the foundation, over the next two decades, for as many as 45,000 new direct and indirect jobs in the water management sector in our state. We’re proud that the collaboration of many partners has made this day possible, and that Louisiana will accomplish great environmental and economic advances because of the water management expertise being developed in our capital city.”

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Construction of the Water Institute headquarters will include vehicular and pedestrian pathways connecting the river facility to River Road and to LSU and downtown Baton Rouge via the existing Mississippi River levee trail. The design of the state-funded facility encourages collaboration of water management professionals across the Water Campus while also enabling the public to see and feel the river in a way they’ve never experienced before.
“Today is an exciting day for Louisiana and for our team at The Water Institute of the Gulf,” Groat said. “We believe our work is important because throughout the world, life happens at the water’s edge. We strive to conduct world-class applied research focused on sustaining the vitality of the world’s great coasts and deltas. Our roots are in Louisiana’s great delta and coast. We will be proud to carry out our mission from this iconic building on the edge of the mighty Mississippi. It’s a fitting home for the institute and we will work tirelessly to be a worthy tenant.”

Construction will be completed in the summer of 2017, when the Water Institute will move from its current office in downtown Baton Rouge to the new headquarters. Now employing 45 research scientists, engineers and technologists, the Water Institute will employ an estimated 55 people at the time of its 2017 move and plans to grow to more than 80 employees in the five years following the move.

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“I’ve worked with governors, mayors and legislators up and down the Mississippi River to sustain our river and coast, and what we have assembled on the Water Campus in Baton Rouge is unparalleled,” Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden said. “The Water Institute of the Gulf is the next step in Louisiana’s global leadership in coastal science and research, and there is much more to come.”

“We are excited to be a part of the Water Institute, an international research center on coastal issues housed right here in Baton Rouge,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “Our LSU faculty and students look forward to working with researchers from around the world who come to the Water Institute to study and help solve the world’s growing coastal problems.”

“The building will bring us back to where our city began,” said President and CEO John Davies of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. “And the scientists who work within it will offer solutions for a hopeful future, not only for the people living on our coast but also for the billions of people who live on or near water around the world.”

About The Water Institute of the Gulf
The Water Institute of the Gulf is the Center of Excellence and a not-for-profit, independent research and technical services resource for resilient coasts and sustainable water systems worldwide. The work of the Institute helps ensure livable communities and a thriving economy and environment. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Tina Rance


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Iconic building will be home to The Water Institute of the Gulf Headquarters, Research & Interpretive Center

Baton Rouge, LA. – The Water Campus released the first images of the new The Water Institute of the Gulf’s Headquarters, Research and Interpretive Center today. Louisiana-based Coleman Partners Architects LLC and global architect firm Perkins+Will have collaborated with Water Campus stakeholders to design the iconic building that will be constructed on the old city dock at the new, innovative Water Campus near downtown Baton Rouge. Construction will begin later this year with completion expected in July 2017.

The building will be headquarters for The Water Institute of the Gulf, and a research and interpretive center. It will be located on the historical Baton Rouge City Dock that was completed in 1926. The 33,000-square-foot, $22-million building will consist of an interpretive gallery, exhibit areas, offices, research labs and meeting and conference facilities. The building will be situated on the dock in a way that continues the long history of Baton Rouge business and culture existing along the banks of the Mississippi River.

"The design team is excited by the possibilities offered by this particular site. Not only will we be able to meet all of the programmatic requirements of The Water Institute, but we will be able to do so on a site like no other in the city", said Buddy Ragland, principal at Coleman Partners.

The architect’s design considerations include the ability to express the overall mission of The Water Institute of The Gulf and embraces the Mississippi River as its leading design component and reflects the ecologically sensitive nature of the project and its unique site.

"This building will be a world-class facility that Louisiana will be proud of", said Chip Groat, president and CEO of The Water Institute, "We continue to work diligently every day with our team and partners to build a world-class applied research organization worthy of calling such an iconic building home."

Other local projects by the Coleman Partners/Perkins+Will team include renovation and additions to Patrick Taylor Hall for LSU’s highly-ranked College of Engineering. Coleman Partners has an extensive history of working in Baton Rouge and specifically with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and is very familiar with the challenges of working in and on the Mississippi River. Perkins+Will is part of a national planning, architecture and interior design firm founded in 1935, with particular experience in the design and construction of headquarters, interpretive spaces, and science and technology parks.

At the Water Campus off Nicholson Drive, construction has begun on the $20-million building for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to house its team of over 160 administrators, scientists, technicians and office support staff. CPRA is the agency charged with implementing the state’s $50 billion comprehensive master plan for a sustainable coast.

Construction has also begun on the Center for River Studies by LSU and CPRA. This 50,000-square-foot, small-scale model of the Mississippi River will allow for the study of all facets of ground and water behavior. It will be the one of the largest, most-dynamic models in the world.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation has taken the leadership role in master planning the Water Campus. Commercial Properties Realty Trust, the real estate arm of the Foundation, will develop and manage the campus. When fully built out, the urban, riverside campus will include more than 1.5 million square feet of commercial space on about 33 acres, and house 2,000 occupants who will inspire international collaboration with other global water campuses and universities.

IBM Tower

ibm-retail-spaceThe IBM Services Center is located on the riverfront in Baton Rouge at the corner of Lafayette and Main Streets.

Downtown Baton Rouge has an increasingly important role as a regional economic and cultural center.  A series of recently completed projects have fueled growth by generating excitement and activity of bringing more businesses and visitors to the downtown area.  The IBM tower has approximately 1,200 workers and just across the street the state employees approximately 9,000 people.  Downtown currently has 632 businesses with a workforce of nearly 23,000 employees. Just adjacent to the IBM tower is the luxury apartments of 525 Lafayette that has approximately 150 residents.  According to the Downtown Development District's recent survey, over 140,000 people visit downtown daily for business or pleasure.

For more information, please contact us at 800.648.9064 or 225.924.7206, 

Governor Jindal and CPRA Highlight Groundbreaking of The Water Campus

Center for River Studies to Provide Venue for Multi-Discipline Collaboration and Coastal Research

February 12, 2015

sIMG 0676BATON ROUGE — Today, Governor Bobby Jindal, officials from the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, LSU, the City of Baton Rouge, and the Water Institute participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Center for River Studies. The Center is the first building to begin construction on The Water Campus, a soon to be world-class research and engineering center in Baton Rouge that will serve as a hub for public, private, non-profit, and academic collaboration to develop innovative solutions for challenges facing coastal communities.

Governor Jindal said, "Today we're taking another step forward in making The Water Campus a reality. This project is a concept we joined together to announce just over a year ago. The creation of the Center for River Studies embodies the principles on which The Water Campus was founded, which are to equip our best and brightest with the skills they need to help us further our work to protect and restore our coast. This facility provides a venue for researchers, scientists, engineers, and citizens to work together to advance solutions to challenges facing coastal Louisiana. The work conducted at this Center will generate scientific strategies that will protect our coastal communities and help us preserve coastal Louisiana for our children and generations to come."

The Center for River Studies will house the Expanded Small Scale Physical Model, one of the largest moving bed physical models in the world. Measuring 90 feet by 120 feet, this state-of-the-art model is based on exact parameters of the river's physical and kinetic properties, producing a degree of accuracy never before achieved in lower-river physical modeling. Designed to simulate the Mississippi River's depth, sediment, and flow, the physical model will be used in conjunction with computer modeling to make informed decisions about the best way to sustain coastal Louisiana.

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The Center will also include an interactive exhibit center focused on the achievements and advancements of the coastal program. In addition to showcasing actual projects, the center will highlight the robust science, tools, and community of knowledge and experience supporting the continued growth and development of Louisiana's coastal program.

Kyle Graham, executive director of the CPRA said, "The sustainability of our coast depends upon the efficient utilization of our natural resources.  Over the past 5 years we have spent more than $350 million actively mining material from the Mississippi River to construct wetlands and barrier islands.  Expanding our knowledge on how to effectively and efficiently utilize the resources of the Mississippi River is critical to our success.  The Center for River Studies will be a state of the art facility through which we can expand our knowledge of the river system, explore project concepts and educate stakeholders."

"We are pleased to partner with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority on this important facility, which serves as a training ground for the next generation of coastal scientists and engineers," said LSU President F. King Alexander. "As Louisiana's flagship university, we continue to look for ways that academics and the public and private sectors can come together on projects that better our state, and helping to solve coastal erosion issues for South Louisiana is one of the most important research endeavors in which our faculty and students can be involved."

The state CPRA led the planning and design effort and is funding construction of the model and facility with $16 million of Coastal Impact Assistance Program funds. Upon completion, the facility will be donated to LSU which will operate the model with funding from CPRA. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation and its real estate entity, Commercial Properties Realty Trust, are the developers of The Water Campus, which will eventually include a multitude of buildings and research facilities working in the fields of coastal restoration and protection and other water-related issues.

SIMG 0673Mayor-President Kip Holden said, "As Mayor of a Mississippi River city, I have been actively working with groups like the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative and the America's Wetland Foundation to assure our river is healthy and sustainable for generations to come. The work produced by LSU at this new center will not only help save our coast and secure Louisiana's economic future, it will position Baton Rouge as a world leader in coastal and river science and research."

The Center for River Studies is the first facility to break ground on The Water Campus, a $45 million 33-acre development funded through a partnership between the State of Louisiana, the City of Baton Rouge, and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

BRAF President John Davies said, "The river model signals the beginning of a gathering place that will enable scientists to think about and solve the most difficult questions facing policymakers in deltas around the world. And for Baton Rouge, we expect this space to spark redevelopment up and down Nicholson Drive."

The initial phase of The Water Campus' development will include three additional facilities: an office building to house CPRA, a multi-tenant office building, and a new education and research center on the old Baton Rouge Municipal dock that will serve as the home of The Water Institute of the Gulf.

"This is an exciting step in the development of the Water Campus," said Chip Groat, Ph.D., president and CEO of The Water Institute of the Gulf. "We look forward to the day that we will be able to actively collaborate with researchers from universities across the state as well as nationally and internationally known researchers who will want to be a part of the exciting work taking place on the campus."

Developing over the next decade, the campus will expand to foster an integrated community focused on researching, engineering, and implementing solutions that will help secure the future of coastal Louisiana. The campus will provide an opportunity for multiple disciplines to unify their efforts and develop coastal knowledge and expertise that can be exported to other coastal communities around the world.

Gov. Jindal and IBM Mark Topping-Off Ceremony for New 800-Job Technology Center in Downtown Baton Rouge

Dec. 15, 2014

Gary Perilloux

IBM Technology Center will open May 2015 as part of $55 million urban development

BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Gov. Bobby Jindal and IBM Vice President Tim McLachlan were joined by Baton Rouge Area Foundation President and CEO John Davies and Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret in a topping-off ceremony, one in which the executives and guests signed a piece of structural steel to be installed near the top of the nine-floor IBM technology center now under construction and slated for completion in May 2015.

ibm-topper-01Part of a $55 million urban development in downtown Baton Rouge, IBM's technology center represents the permanent home for a project that will create 800 new direct jobs serving major IBM technology customers. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 542 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 1,300 new permanent jobs in the Capital Region of Louisiana. IBM began operations for its new Louisiana project in 2013, moving into an existing Essen Lane office in Baton Rouge, where the company already employs more than 200 professionals and is on target to reach full employment of 800 within the next four years. Next spring, those operations will move into the downtown IBM center, which will be joined on the same block by 525 Lafayette, a 10-story residential tower featuring CenturyLink smart-home automation in each of its 85 units.

ibm-topper-03Gov. Jindal said, "Today's topping-off ceremony fulfills another milestone in our commitment to position Louisiana as a leader in the global technology sector. IBM's Baton Rouge technology center will propel Louisiana on the cutting-edge of innovation, with Baton Rouge serving as a thriving landmark for major businesses and technology projects. It will also help train more of our tech students as LSU and IBM work closely with one another to equip our students to meet the growing demand for skilled workers in the tech industry. We look forward to the progress of more outstanding career opportunities with IBM as we continue to prepare a highly skilled, next-generation workforce right here in Louisiana."

The IBM technology center project includes innovative, public-private partnerships to expand higher-education programs related to computer science and to construct the major new riverfront development that will accelerate the redevelopment renaissance underway in downtown Baton Rouge. For the IBM project, the State of Louisiana will provide $14 million over 10 years to expand higher-education programs designed primarily to increase the number of annual computer science graduates. At least 65 percent of those funds will be provided for expansion of the Computer Science Division of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at LSU. IBM will employ a broad range of college graduates and experienced professionals with backgrounds in computer science and other quantitative-intense fields, such as engineering, mathematics and science.

"Since May 2013, a year-and-a-half later, IBM and the State of Louisiana are proudly showing the collaborative power of public-private partnerships," said McLachlan, who manages the IBM technology center in Baton Rouge. "This innovative model is now working to build the next generation of capability and service for a multitude of U.S. clients. Today's topping-off ceremony represents a major milestone in our committed journey together."

In Baton Rouge, IBM will provide its U.S. clients with integrated solutions to successfully adopt and support solutions on cloud, analytics, mobile, social or security. The IBM technology center will deliver technology services that include application development, application management and system integration. IBM will work closely with local professors at LSU to create coursework focused on technology, math and software development, equipping students to meet the growing demand for business services in advanced analytics, process innovation and application development.

A key public-private partnership secured construction of the IBM center's permanent site. Commercial Properties Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust, is building the $55 million urban development. CPRT manages and develops property holdings of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and the BRAF-affiliated Wilbur Marvin Foundation will own the IBM office building and the adjacent 10-floor residential building that includes 85 river-view apartments (available beginning October 2015) and an adjoining five multistory townhomes.

The approximately $30.5 million office building is being built with public funds, whereas CPRT, which estimates 600 construction jobs associated with the overall project, will privately finance the residential building. Bounded by Lafayette Street on the east, River Road on the west, Main Street on the south and North Street on the north, the development site is at the former location of The Advocate newspaper.

"We are beyond the tipping point for revival of our downtown, and now we are beginning the next chapter, returning to the river where our city was born more than 200 years ago," BRAF's Davies said.
LED offered IBM a customized, performance-based incentive package that also includes grants totaling $29.5 million over 12 years, including a $1.5 million contribution from the City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge, to reimburse costs related to personnel recruitment, relocation, and other workforce-related costs; internal training; and facility operating expenses. The company also will utilize LED FastStart® for recruitment support, as well as Louisiana's Quality Jobs program.

IBM represents the vanguard of what is becoming a rapidly expanding technology sector for the state. Digital media and software development investments by GE Capital, EA, Gameloft, CSC, CGI, Perficient and others have been accompanied by major corporate headquarters expansions by CenturyLink and Schumacher Group, with more than 5,000 new direct jobs expected to be filled in Louisiana's software technology sector in the next few years alone.

In connection with the IBM higher-education initiative, LSU plans to double its computer science faculty and triple the number of computer science graduates in five years, which will place the LSU Computer Science program in the Top 10 to 15 programs nationally for the number of bachelor's degrees in computer science awarded annually. To support the growth of technology graduates statewide, Louisiana has launched additional higher-education initiatives at Louisiana Tech University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of New Orleans, in addition to a Geaux Digital Louisiana initiative that engages high schools, community and technical colleges, and other universities to promote interest in computer science-related careers and to enhance student recruitment.

"This formidable structure in the heart of downtown makes tangible the economic strides of the Capital Region," said President and CEO Adam Knapp of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. "It represents the strength, growth and diversity that characterize our economy."

"With this significant milestone for IBM's technology center, we are one step closer to Baton Rouge becoming a world-class destination for software and knowledge-based professions – a city full of opportunities to keep our sons and daughters home," Baton Rouge Mayor-President Melvin "Kip" Holden said.

Additional details about IBM's Baton Rouge project, visit

About IBM
IBM is a globally integrated technology and consulting company headquartered in Armonk, N.Y. With operations in more than 170 countries, IBM attracts and retains some of the world's most talented people to help solve problems and provide an edge for businesses, governments and nonprofits. Innovation is at the core of IBM's strategy. For more about IBM, visit

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