Text description provided by the architects. Designed by Safdie Rabines Architects, the Robert Paine Scripps Forum for Science, Society and the Environment is an oceanfront conference center that plays host to scientists from around the world studying the oceans, earth, and marine life. The project features an approximately 300-person flexible auditorium space, four oceanfront meeting rooms of varying sizes, a graduate student lounge, a catering kitchen, and a restaurant.
Project description, images, and drawings after the break.
The building is located atop an ocean bluff, with strong winds, western sun, an existing grove of palms, and the ever-changing ocean providing the natural context. Responding to these forces without impacting the site’s natural beauty was a driving goal in the design of the project. In addition, the uniquely informal character of the Scripps community, with its clear appreciation of the natural environment and outdoors, became an influential factor in the design. It was important to create a building that feels warm and inviting; and, more importantly, one that does not feel ‘institutional’. The goal was to create a state-of-the-art conference center where scientists dressed in shorts and flip-flops could feel at home.
The auditorium was conceived of as a box within a box that can shed its layers depending on the event and the desired configuration. It can be completely enclosed for formal presentations and movies, or it can be opened to the oceanfront terrace with a series of pocketing doors that allow for indoor/outdoor receptions and banquets. In addition, each meeting room opens onto its own trellised terrace, enabling meetings and receptions to spill out onto the ocean bluff. To the east of the meeting rooms, there is an outdoor pre-function courtyard and garden protected from the ocean breezes for winter gatherings. West of the auditorium is a large outdoor terrace that overlooks the ocean. The auditorium is tucked into the hillside, minimizing its mass from the campus to the east, and allowing for gentle ramps to access a rooftop restaurant and terrace. The program is broken into several buildings connected by a trellised walkway, creating a porous structure that preserves ocean views and breezes for the rest of the campus. Exterior circulation takes advantage of San Diego’s temperate climate and greatly reduces the need for mechanical systems and artificial lighting.
The design phase for this entirely gift-funded project spanned a long period of time and was completed prior to the establishment of the University’s LEED-certification goals. Despite this, instinctive design decisions regarding building envelope, materials, energy use, daylighting and passive cooling enabled the project to achieve LEED certification after the completion of construction.