Tender opened for the construction of the International Antarctic Center in Punta Arenas | Polarjournal
The impressive building of the International Antarctic Center in Punta Arenas, Chile, will be located directly on the Strait of Magellan. Image: Gobierno de Chile

The International Antarctic Center in Punta Arenas has come one step closer to realization: Almost exactly one year after the Chilean Ministry of Social Development gave the green light for construction, the bidding process for the structural implementation was opened two days ago. Five companies passed in-depth examinations by the evaluation commission and were shortlisted by the Ministry of Public Works. A budget of about 70 million US dollars has been planned for the project.

The Centro Antártico Internacional (CAI) is soon to be not only the most important gateway to West Antarctica for scientific expeditions, but also a polar research center with laboratories and an interactive museum for the general public with an aquarium, a planetarium, a primeval Antarctic forest and special rooms with simulated Antarctic climate. Furthermore, in addition to an auditorium and an esplanade for events, there will also be a restaurant, a cafeteria and a bookstore.

The research unit will be diversified, with modern laboratories specializing in topics such as ice, atmosphere and ocean, ecology and evolution, geology, paleontology and paleoclimate, biotechnology, and modeling and bioinformatics, and more.

The CAI will encompass nearly 33,000 square meters, with around 22,000 square meters for the building and around 11,000 square meters for the outdoor facilities.

The CAI is designed to look like an iceberg. Image: Equipo Primer Lugar via Plataforma Arquitectura

According to an announcement by the Ministry of Public Works, five domestic and foreign construction companies meet the technical, administrative and economic requirements for participation in the tender process for the construction of the International Antarctic Center. All proposals must be received by November 24, 2022, and bids will be opened on December 12, 2022.

The approved companies include construction businesses headquartered in Spain and Chile, one of which focuses on sustainable construction in environmental, economic and social terms.

Construction could start as early as the first quarter of 2023, provided the winning bid is not contested and has to be re-evaluated. Construction of the Antarctic Center is to be completed within 36 months, i.e. by 2026.

The Minister of Public Works, Juan Carlos García, expressed satisfaction in the message of the Ministry “for the great interest that exists in the realization of this project on the part of the companies that play an important role in the execution of infrastructure works. We hope that at the end of the tender we will have competitive bids that will allow us to start work in the first half of 2023 on the CAI, which will become an urban landmark and a world reference for scientific and logistical activities related to Antarctica.” He added, “It is a priority for our government to work with regional governments on projects that will be an economic and tourism boost for the regions. We have talked with Governor Jorge Flies about the importance of making this project happen not only for Punta Arenas, but also for [the province of] Magallanes.”

Julia Hager, PolarJournal 

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International Antarctic Centre to be built in Punta Arenas
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