- Owner:NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla
- Mep+Fp Engineer:Gibbens Drake Scott, Raytown, MO
- Animation / Image Consultant:Arnold Imaging
- Associate Architect:Delawie
- City:San Diego
- Country:United States
Text description provided by the architects. The NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center was recently completed by a Gould Evans-led design team, creating a world-class facility that will help recruit talented scientists and support ongoing research for the conservation and management of the region’s living marine resources. The LEED Gold certified building represents a site-specific approach to sustainable design, with architectural features that set a local benchmark for energy efficiency and connect scientists to the environment they are so dedicated to preserving.
Challenged to relocate an existing facility threatened by coastal erosion, the team designed a stunning new research environment that appears to grow from the surrounding bluffs. The building is perched at the head of the La Jolla Canyon, a bathymetric feature that provides researchers with access to the deep Pacific Ocean. The architecture reacts to this topography, utilizing massing anomalies to create outdoor gathering spaces, rooftop terraces, and courtyards that reinterpret the beloved “courtyard culture” of NOAA’s former facility.
The 124,000 square foot building was inserted into a steep contour to maintain ocean views from the road above and efficiently accommodate a complex program of offices, laboratories, conference rooms, parking, a library, and a 528,000 gallon ocean technology development tank – the largest of its kind in the world. Through its siting, materiality and use of green space, the five-story building never appears larger than three stories from the exterior. It also never seems taller than three stories to the scientists who work there, fostering a feeling of scientific community.
For a building dedicated to marine ecosystem health, sustainable design was critical. However, laboratories consume about five times more energy per square foot than a typical office building. To offset this, the building has narrow floor plates that permit daylight to permeate the spaces, fan-assisted natural ventilation, and high-efficiency equipment and lighting. The green roof has been planted with a variety of native species, including coastal chaparral and sage. Solar shading on the west- and south-facing windows contribute to reducing the building’s cooling loads to 69% less than that required by ASHRAE 90.1-2004 standard. A large photovoltaic array on the roof offsets 7% of the building's energy needs: equivalent to the energy that would power 40 typical houses in the region. Altogether, these features reduce projected energy use by 33% compared to similar buildings.
Sarah Mesnick, Marine Mammal Ecologist/Science Liaison at the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center highlights another important benefit, “Our staff will thrive with the combination of fresh air and natural light in their offices, as well as the open spaces which promote interaction, creating both a wonderfully healthy and scientifically productive place to work.”