A number of inaccuracies about the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum were voiced during the 2012 legislative session. As president of Hornbeek-Blatt, the co-prime architect for the project for the past 16 years, I want to address these inaccuracies.
Questions pertaining to an escalation in budget figures from $99 million in 1998 to the current $170 million have arisen. It's important to contextualize figures with accurate facts. The 1998 estimated budget was determined in accordance with 1998 dollars and prior to a completed project design. The design team consistently communicated that phased construction over an extended period of time would increase costs one-and-a-half to two times the presented estimates.
In 2005, Centennial Builders was hired and used the construction documents to determine an estimate of $150 million. Additional items have been added to the project, such as the enclosed and functional visitor center and an ice storage cooling system, resulting in operational efficiencies. The lack of consistent funding has created significant inefficiencies, turning a two-year construction project into an eight- to nine-year project.
To date, Centennial Builders has bid approximately 60 packages, resulting in a savings of more than $7 million. During this process, many bids were rejected and rebid when they weren't in line with the budget. Complete upfront funding would have shortened the construction time significantly and eliminated the need for so many bid packages.
This project has been compared to the construction of the Devon Tower and other marquee projects in terms of dollars per square foot. These projects aren't similar. The cultural center is built on 210 acres of land in a 500-year flood plain, with 57 abandoned oil wells that had to be located and remediated. About 7,000 abandoned tires were removed, as well as discarded concrete, abandoned pipelines and webs of tangled reinforced steel. The basement of this facility had to be higher than the flood plain.