A new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) laboratory in La Jolla, California, is back on track after receiving funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The $102 million lab, designed by a team led by GouldEvans architecture, Gibbens Drake Scott engineering, and Architects | Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker, had been on hold since the beginning of 2008 due to a lack of funding.

GouldEvans has designed a new lab for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“NOAA got the stimulus money they needed to move the project forward because it qualified as shovel-ready,” says Bob Gould, FAIA, who notes that construction documents were already 65 percent complete when the project was delayed. Those documents have since been finished, site preparation work is now under way, and construction is expected to begin in earnest this spring.

The four-story, 215,000-square-foot building is a state-of-the-art research facility for the Southwest Fisheries Science Center; it will replace the federal organization’s existing 45-year-old lab, which is now being threatened by cliff erosion. “This building will allow them to do ocean development technology research they have not been able to do in the past,” says GouldEvans project manager Jim Schraeder. One of the key features, he notes, is a 33-foot-deep water tank that will enable researchers to better replicate natural fish habitat.

The laboratory is designed to be certified LEED Gold “at a minimum,” says Gould. The architects are working closely with San Diego Gas & Electric to model expected power use and maximize energy savings. In addition, says Gould, “because construction costs are so competitive right now, there’s hope that some things we thought of as alternates, like green roofs and photovoltaics, we’re really going to get.”  Completion is expected in 2011.

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