Carved into the southern California coastline, the Center for Coastal Studies at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) allows researchers and students to work within their subject of study. The renovation revitalizes a haphazardly repurposed building at the heart of campus and creates an inspiring new environment for research and teaching.
Originally a prewar saltwater storage tank, the building was converted to house scientists studying physical oceanography in 1963. The new design elevates the existing storage tank’s concrete structure through careful interventions that re-order the facades and improve occupant connection to the stunning surroundings. In response to the environmentally sensitive beachfront site, the project team worked with SIO researchers to understand potential impacts of climate change, confirming that worst-case sea level rise will not overtop the existing seawall during the useful life of the building.
Increased window area on the west and north façades provide natural ventilation, ample daylight and an expanded view of the ocean and the coastline. Wood is a major part of the historic SIO campus vernacular, however, with proximity to the ocean, maintenance is an issue. By utilizing resilient materials, such as treated red cedar, which is resistant to rot, insects and sun damage, the building is designed to weather gracefully within the extreme coastal environment. The project is LEED Gold certified and was completed fall of 2020.