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IHMC Expansion Project Back On Track After Flood

After a long delay caused by last April's flood The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola is set to finally begin a major expansion of its downtown campus.

Julie Sheppard, General Counsel for IHMC says they had been hoping to be in the final phase of their expansion by now, but the flood changed everything. The first floor of their main building on Alcaniz Street and three of the locations they rent around town were uninhabitable. That meant much of the time and money that would have gone into the expansion was used just to get IHMC back up and running again. Sheppard says that during this time space was at a premium as people were in cramped quarters and sharing office space.

Getting the existing buildings back up and running included raising the buildings and the HVAC systems a foot higher to protect them from further flooding. Once things were back up and running again, and that was only completed around the end of December, then it was literally back to the drawing board.

Credit IHMC
Architect's drawing of the new IHMC building in Pensacola

Sheppard says the architect had to redraw plans to accommodate the extra foot of elevation. The original plans called for the expansion of the IHMC lecture hall, but even though they were insured, the repairs ate up the funds for that part of the project. The existing building on Alcaniz will remain and the new building will be three stories and will retain the historic feel of the neighborhood, which is called the Brick Warehouse District. Carter Quina of Quina Grundhoefer Architects is the lead architect for the project. Last year he talked about the new building being a three story brick building with adaptable space for the institute's projects and viewing areas for public tours.

One of the goals of the project has always been to consolidate all of the institute's staff into one location or campus. Julie Sheppard pointed out that while they were undergoing repairs from the flood, they learned how important that can be. With people in such close proximity it was easier to discuss ideas in person.

Work is slated to begin in the spring with a groundbreaking ceremony coming soon.  The completion of the 30,000 square foot and three story main project is expected by summer of 2016. 

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.