Aerial View - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans
 
NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center La Jolla, California

Introduction

“The architects have created an innovative design that allows our science to flourish, and for this science to contribute to a thriving maritime community in San Diego for current and future generations.”

—Sarah L. Mesnick, PhD, Marine Mammal Ecologist/Science Liaison, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Challenged to relocate an existing facility that was facing the dangerous and uncertain effects of coastal erosion, Gould Evans collaborated with NOAA to design a truly sustainable marine research environment that goes beyond supporting conservation efforts.

Inspired by the topography of the ocean and the culture of Southern California, the resulting design sets a new benchmark in low-impact sustainable lab design, while defining new synergies between marine scientists and their environment. The new facility fits naturally into the contours of the local hills and coastal habitat, and incorporates a complex program of offices, labs, conference rooms, parking, a library, and a one-of-a-kind ocean technology development tank all within a singular building footprint.

In doing this, the building embraces the coastal vernacular of outdoor terraces, courtyards, local materials, and local coastal plantings; all of which help connect researchers to the environment they are so dedicated to preserving.

Existing Building - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

existing building, in danger of coastal erosion

“This is a building that seamlessly blends natural and human environments. It lets in light and air, views of the ocean and the hills, the scent of the sea. Similarly, our research blends human, natural and physical science for the conservation and management of the region’s living marine resources.”

—Cisco Werner, Director, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries

Research/Site

Geographic Map - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans
Pacific Coast Cliffs - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

satellite view of ocean and coastal bluffs at the site

Response To Topography

The building site is perched at the head of the La Jolla canyon, an underwater topographic feature that is a critical landmark for the work at Southwest Fisheries. This canyon, and the adjacent San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park and Ecological Reserves, allow researchers quick access to the deep sea of the Pacific Ocean. As designers, we felt the building should respond to this topography, and utilize massing anomalies to create outdoor gathering spaces, rooftop terraces, and courtyards. As a result, the building responds as a contextual extension of the La Jolla Canyon, while creating different levels of activity for researchers to continue their work.

Emulating the topology of the underwater canyons and the coastal bluff, the laboratory orients itself to the Pacific Ocean in a way that makes it the subject and object of its research.

Topographic Diagram - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans
Canyon Diagram - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

underwater canyon

Coatline Diagram - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

coastline

Site Topography Diagram - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

site topography

Built Form Sketch - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

built form


Design/Program

Design Program Diagram - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

Users

Fisheries Resource Division Logo - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

Fisheries
Resources
Division

Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission Logo - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

Inter-American
Tropical Tuna
Commission

California Department of Fish and Game Logo - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

California
Department of
Fish and Wildlife

SWFSC Administration Logo - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

SWFSC
Administration

Protective Resource Division Logo - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

The Marine
Mammal and
Turtle Division

Information Technology Services Logo - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

Information
Technology
Services

Antarctic Ecosystem Research Logo - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

Antarctic
Ecosystem
Research
Division


7 User Groups    275 People    202 Parking Spots

The modern facility is broken down into smaller structures which are clustered in “villages” no more than two stories in height in order to avoid the feeling of a single large building. The smaller elements are organized around atrium courtyards. These are the centers of activity that enable researchers to connect for impromptu meetings. The courts and patios take full advantage of the mild climate and promote natural ventilation. The split floor plan with narrow floor plates maximizes sunlight and views.

Arranging a Complex Program

Massing Diagram - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

Block Out Program

First we stacked the program to fit it onto the site, putting the more ‘daylight intensive’ programs on the top.

Open to Views - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

Open Up To Views

In order to allow daylight and natural ventilation into the offices and laboratories, it was necessary to open up the building. The angles were determined by orienting to views.

Courtyard Diagram - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

Open Up To Light

To respond to the pleasant southern California climate, and to bring in natural light and ventilation; open courtyards are cut into the middle of the offices.


“The innovative building design infuses the laboratory with light, fresh ocean air, and sweeping coastal views while the green building features create a less-impactful human footprint.”

—Sarah L. Mesnick, PhD, Marine Mammal Ecologist/Science Liaison, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Reads As A Three Story Building

Using the natural topography, and green roofs, the building never looks taller than three stories. It also never seems taller than three stories to the scientists that work there, which reinforces the sense of scientific community. Views to the
Pacific are maintained.

Massing and View Study - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

“The architects have designed a building that captures the ‘courtyard culture’ we enjoyed in our old lab, with natural light, natural ventilation and numerous common areas for people to gather and exchange ideas.”

—Roger Hewitt, Assistant Center Director, Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Sustainability

33% reduction in overall energy use compared to similar buildings.

LEED Gold Certified.

69% less cooling energy use than ASHRAE 90.1-2004.

30% of roof covered by vegetation.

100% of parking covered to reduce heat island effect.

7% reduction in amount of electricity offset by solar panels = the energy needed to power 40 houses.

Photovoltaic PV Panels - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

Photovoltaic Panels:
7% of electrical use offset by solar energy

Terracotta Louvers - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

Terracotta Louvers:
69% less cooling required

Shade/Views/Ventilation Sections - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

shaded work spaces

enhanced views

naturally ventilated


Reaction

“In science when a solution or breakthrough is reached, the comment is ‘oh that was obvious.’ This building has a sense of inevitability, a building that is what it should be. This is the most creative design I’ve seen as a member of this board.”

—Robert Hamburger, University of California San Diego Design Review Board
Member and former Dean of Faculty at the UCSD School of Medicine

Aerial Rendering - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - LEED Architecture - Gould Evans

Facts

124,000 sf

275 scientists/support staff

Offices + laboratories

Experimental aquaria + library

528,000 gallon ocean technology tank

202 parking spaces

LEED Gold certified

Construction completion 2013