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Conceptual renderings and models for a water education center and an adjoining museum of archaeology and paleontology, to be located at Southern California's largest drinking water reservoir, were unveiled for community leaders gathered at the lake in southwestern Riverside County.
Preliminary designs for the Southern California Water Education Center and the Western Center for Archaelogy and Paleontology were presented by Phillip J. Pace, chairman of the Foundation for the Southern California Water Education Center and chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and by Assemblyman David G. Kelley, (R-Hemet).
Pace and Kelley, who has been a driving force urging development of the Western Center, were joined by Western Center and Education Center board members and by the Valley Wide Recreation board as well.
"This building and its exhibits will be another jewel in the crown of Diamond Valley Lake," Pace told several hundred people gathered in a lakeside tent for the unveiling. "This beautiful concept will grace the east end of the lake, and its exhibits will inform and inspire students and visitors for decades to come."
"What a pleasure it is to see these drawings and models that begin to give shape to this complex," said Assemblyman Kelley, whose legislative district includes the lake and surrounding communities. "Our intent all along has been to make this a world-class facility, and these plans illustrate that we're well on the way."
Howard Rosenthal, president of the Western Center, said, "Seeing these plans materialize brings an idea that was broached in 1995 by the Hemet/San Jacinto Action Group one step closer to reality. It's exciting to see it taking shape."
Architects Michael Lehrer and Mark Gangi, principals in the Glendale-based firm of Lehrer+Gangi Design Build, unveiled their conceptual drawings and models for the complex, which is expected to total approximately 60,000 square feet of enclosed space, plus an 8,000-square-foot plaza. Groundbreaking for the estimated $66 million complex may occur late this year.
"Our design concept celebrates the lake's east dam and its incredible technology," Lehrer said. "Outside, the landscaping will include features that recognize the importance of water and people in Southern California and includes plant species that existed in the six-county MWD region prior to the availability of bountiful water."
Metropolitan is the region's largest water importer and wholesaler, a public agency that provides more than half of the water used by the region's 17 million people and its $700 billion economy. The Foundation for the Southern California Water Education Center was created by Metropolitan's board in October 2001 as a non-profit organization to foster the construction and development of the center.
Of the $66 million estimated cost for the museums, about $16 million is expected for the Water Education Center and approximately $50 million for the Western Center. Last month, Metropolitan's board granted $2 million to the Education Center foundation for development of the building and exhibits.
The Water Education Center will develop and house exhibits and programs designed to educate the public on issues concerning water resources, resources management and the environment. Already, 30,000 students have participated in water, archaeology and paleontology education programs at the lake.
The Western Center for Archaeology and Paleontology has evolved from the thousands of prehistoric sites, artifacts, bones and skeletons that were uncovered as Metropolitan prepared for construction of three dams that eventually became Diamond Valley Lake.