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Renzo Piano’s plans for a subterranean dinosaur park in England unchanged despite funding flop

Starchitect Renzo Piano has vowed to soldier on with mega-sized plans for a Jurassica Resort on England's island of Portland in the English Channel, despite being denied a $24.5 million bid for Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF). “The project is now continuing into development without an HLF development grant,” a spokesman for the project told Architect’s Journal. Jurassica’s backers said they will re-apply for the grant and are not acquiescing to appeals for a downsize. The brainchild of science journalist Mike Hanion, Jurassica Resort will be the world’s largest immersive prehistoric environment. Although designed with a museum’s vital organs, the facility itself is essentially a limestone quarry 132 feet-deep beneath a translucent glass roof supported by the quarry walls. The building itself is designed to be “more or less invisible.” Beneath the glass is a Jurassic-period coastal cove, where visitors will walk beneath towering cliffs, sea-stacks and arches covered in exotic trees, past a living reef festooned with corals and patrolled by sharks and stingray. Those with the tenacity can venture into a forested ravine where the “dinosaurs” rove. Animatronic dinosaur displays, an aquarium, and swimming plesiosaurs are just a few of the promised wonders. The subterranean dinosaur museum will be located on Dorset’s Jurassic coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising a 95-mile stretch of cliff distilling 180 million years of geological history. “We will pick a specific period in prehistory and everything you see will be both realistic and an accurate representation of the plants and animals that were alive during that time,” said David Lazenby, Creative Director of Azureus Design, on board for the exhibit design. “The Jurassic Cove will not be a theme park display but a spectacular and precise snapshot in time that will bring the heritage of the Jurassic Coast to life.” Hanion believes the park could draw 800,000 visitors regularly and employ approximately 200 people. Yearly revenue of $30.3 million for the local economy has also been estimated. Project managers are intent on securing alternative funding, with the goal of opening Jurassica Resort by 2019 or 2020. “At £16 million ($24.5 million), public funds from HLF were always only part of our funding strategy for a project costing some £80 million (around $122.6 million),” said the spokesman. “We have applied to and will apply to scientific trusts and other grant-giving bodies both in the UK and overseas, and have already attracted financial support from business and HNWI based locally and nationally.”