Punta Arenas, as the capital of the Chilean Magallanes Region and Chilean Antarctica, will finally have its International Antarctic Center making the city the logistic hub and gate of access to Western Antarctica, following on the regional council's decision to support and finance the 88 million dollars project as part of the development program for Extreme Zones.
The five-storey and 22.000 square meters all-white building, simulating an iceberg will be built to the west of Punta Arenas along the Magellan Strait on an 8,5 acres ground with the research labs, equipment, a planet aquarium, Antarctic forest and some rooms with Antarctic temperatures for experiments, plus a 600 people auditorium, library, administration offices and all the amenities and parking needed to host so many people.
The International Antarctic Center is an idea dating back to the nineties, but only advanced in recent years, intending to become a great space for regional and international cooperation and the development of Antarctic studies, plus all the side benefits such a scientific hub would represent for Punta Arenas.
In July 2015 the Regional council agreed on the first investment of some 1,8 million dollars for the design of the project, one of 36 presented for Chile's Extreme Zones development during the government of then-president Michelle Bachelet.
Magallanes region first elected governor Jorge Flies said that the international centre is an ambition of decades looking to have a centre to promote science, culture, education and logistics. This is not a specific government project but from the Chilean State and acknowledges the significance of the links of Magallanes with Antarctica and all the facilities such a project will represent
With this Antarctic centre and the Cape Horn international centre at Puerto Williams, Magallanes becomes the hub of Antarctic and Sub Antarctic scientific research. It will undoubtedly make a difference for Chile and the world, not to mention all the generations of future scientists that will be working in the project, Flies added
The project is expected to be developed in several years since financing is not a lump sum but is to be delivered in several annual budgets. Next February 2022, there will be an international tender and the first groundwork should begin in the 2022/23 summer season. Overall completion of the Antarctic International Center should take some three to four years.