With the selection of Populous Architects for a campus masterplan and feasibility study, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority on March 16 moved a step closer to expanding the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority board voted to approve a contract for up to $2.2 million with Populous. Whatever option they develop is not expected to be as elaborate as the $1-billion plan Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) put on hold in 2015.

“The data driven financial and industry marketplace analysis will provide an opportunity to evaluate potential future options at the BCEC’s 70-acre campus by taking into account the dramatic development of the South Boston Waterfront and rapid evolution of customer priorities in the global conventions, meetings and events industry,” the authority stated in a press release.

The authority’s designer selection panel picked Populous in November 2017, from four finalists by and contract negotiations began two weeks later.

The study is scheduled for completion by early 2019.

Populous was a strong candidate with its a global portfolio of convention center projects across the U.S. and in Australia, India and the Middle East. “Their diverse team in Boston has strong local representation with several firms that have first-hand experience working on the Boston Convention Center, including the original construction of the center and subsequent projects at the facility,” the authority notes. Those firms include BT (architecture), Goulston & Storrs (legal), and Howard Stein Hudson (transportation engineering).

“The opportunity to help position the BCEC for future success is exciting, and we look forward to applying our nearly 20 years of planning and design expertise to this new project,” said Todd Voth, senior principal at Populous.

In separate news, Arcadis took over at the authority as owner’s project manager for Tishman early this year when the existing contract ran out. “Ultimately, Arcadis was selected since it has the ability to take on the totality of services and for the expertise they can bring to authority,” says a spokesman for the authority. The contract cost is about $45 million in annual capital expenditure to manage up to 40 projects per year on all four properties.

“At 14 years of age, the Boston Convention Center is now a teenager,” says Sean Sweeney, associate vice president at Arcadis. The authority is starting to look at the building envelope, electrical systems, emergency power, and big thing now is resiliency, says Sean Sweeney, associate vice president at Arcadis.

“We just had a big nor’easter here in Boston with water in the whole area where the convention center is; the authority is very interested in resiliency” he says.

While involved with the Climate Rating Boston study, Arcadis worked in the area around the convention center in south Boston, he says.

“We are not just the owner project manager, but can work with the rising sea levels, talk about resiliency planning and how to better plan for the future. We also do capital renewal, and address how to strategize and spend for deferred maintenance issues.”