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Mobius Center designer to speak at celebration

Noted architect and sustainable-building advocate William McDonough, designer of the planned Mobius Science Center, will speak this evening at an event to celebrate that more than one-quarter of the center’s $35 million price tag has been raised.

Nonprofit civic organization Mobius says it has garnered about $9 million from donations and state government toward the 53,000-square-foot center, which would be built on the north bank of the Spokane River between Washington and Howard streets. Mobius expects to break ground next year, assuming it raises enough money, said Mobius board member Chris Majer.

“We’ve been in what’s called the quiet phase of this campaign, so a lot of people may not really know how much progress has been made,” Majer said.

Mobius must raise $14 million by May under an agreement with the Spokane Park Board – which leased 5.7 acres of land for the center – or risk losing its lease.

Plans call for a mix of permanent and rotating exhibits displaying the region’s natural and technological resources, and a 3-D IMAX theater to replace the aging one in city-owned Riverfront Park.

Vanity Fair in its May issue profiled McDonough, known for designing structures for major companies, including Gap Inc. and Ford. He co-authored the book “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” and has received three presidential awards.

While McDonough did an initial set of conceptual drawings, organizers “realized our initial ambitions were a little bit bigger” than what the market would bear, and Mobius is starting initial design phases, Majer said.

Integrus Architecture, of Spokane, will use his concepts to develop plans. New York City-based Ralph Appelbaum Associates Inc., billed as the world’s largest interpretive museum design firm, will design the exhibits.

Mobius Kids, located in the basement of River Park Square downtown, would remain after the center is constructed, Majer said.

“It’s been an integral part of the strategy, and we’re at a point now where it’s frankly self-sustaining,” he said.

To date, individuals and corporations have pledged $4.6 million, a foundation related to the Cowles family – which owns The Spokesman-Review through the Cowles Co. – promised $1 million, and the state will contribute $3.4 million, Majer said. Anne Cowles, who is on the Mobius campaign committee, is a member of that family. Wanda Cowles, also a family member, is a Mobius board member.

Mobius is looking for a project manager and a building contractor.

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