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NORMAL - The downtown transportation center still will be as tall as the Children's Discovery Museum, but a delayed timetable and inflation has forced it to shrink by one story.

"We've had to revise the scope of the project to counteract inflation," Rodney Reid of RATIO SRA architects told City Council members during a work session Monday.

The building is not expected to be constructed until at least 2008, when inflation could add $2 million to its cost.

But Rob Proctor of RATIO said that doesn't mean the design of the building will suffer. All the buildings surrounding the planned downtown roundabout have to be of similar height, and the center will achieve that with a very tall first story.

"I'm really excited about this," Proctor said. "The project is coming along. The more open plaza design is really paying off."

The council previously approved an asymmetrical design for a plaza that will sit between the transportation center and the Children's Discovery Museum. That allowed the now three-story transportation center to have some curves.

The main entrance will be off the planned roundabout at the corner of Beaufort and North streets and Constitution Trail, Proctor said. Other entrances are planned from the plaza, from the train platform and from the bus entrance on the west side of the building.

A canopy runs the full length of the building along the railroad tracks.

Train and bus information will be found in a hub in the center of the first floor. Proctor said there will be curving ramps for people to walk up and down.

"It's almost an artistic element of the building," he said.

The third-floor community center also will have a curvature as well, he said. The top floor also may have an outdoor terrace.

The second floor will offer leased office space including "a Class A office space overlooking the circle and plaza," Proctor said.

There will be a 65-foot tower with a timepiece on the corner of the building facing the roundabout and two towers on the accompanying three-story, 280-space parking garage to the west.

"It looks like a see-through garage," said Councilman Jeff Fritzen. "I liked what I saw, will we really see it?"

Proctors said the idea is not to pretend the garage is a building.

"We want people to know that it's a garage but want them to think it's a nice one."


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