Infinity construction begins in May

         

The entrance to Infinity Science Center at Exit 2 of Interstate 10 in Hancock County.

GULFPORT

More than 10 years after it was dreamed, Infinity Science Center is ready to be built in Hancock County.

The contracts were awarded Thursday in Gulfport; two Coast firms will oversee the construction. Infinity will be built next to the Mississippi Welcome Center at Exit 2 off Interstate 10 near Stennis Space Center.

Roy Anderson Corp. of Gulfport submitted the low bid of $15.6 million to construct the building and Eley Guild Hardy of Biloxi was named executive architect.

Work will begin May 3 and the building will be complete in 16 months, said Bob Gist, Anderson’s chief operating officer.

“It’s going to be a beautiful building — one of the jewels of the Coast,” said project architect Joseph Crain.

John Wilson, the education program development director at Infinity, said it could be August 2011 before money is raised to pay for the exhibits and open the science center. Memories rather than champagne flowed when the contracts were awarded.

Gist cited the “vision, leadership and tireless efforts” of the late Leo Seal Jr., the Hancock Bank president who in 1999 was one of the originators of the idea to build Infinity and donated generously to the project. Wilson said Seal, the late Tommy Munro, Hancock Bank, Mississippi Power, Infinity Board members, Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise and others supported Infinity when it was just a dream.

“They gave based on an idea and a set of designs,” he said.

“Now everybody can give based on reality.”

The science center will feature a variety of experiences for all ages, from Science Express to give travelers a quick glimpse into Infinity to day-long explorations students and other groups can take into Earth, oceans and space.

By MARY PEREZ – meperez@sunherald.com
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