2007 Coastal Living Awards: Design

Graceful form marries ocean research on California's Central Coast.

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Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

Courtesy of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

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At sunset, the redwood exterior of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) casts a glow from a bluff above Highway 1. No billboard proclaims the identity of the low-rise, 60,000-square-foot structure. But MLML is one of the world's foremost research complexes.

Originating in an old Moss Landing cannery, MLML has served as an ocean-studies mecca for students from seven California State University campuses since 1966. Its new home, designed by SmithGroup of San Francisco, opened in 2000 and uses natural materials that complement the setting. The structure seems to rise organically amid 21 acres of fragrant eucalyptus trees, native dune plants, and water. "We're surrounded by the [Moro Coho] Slough, the Salinas River, and mudflats, and we overlook Monterey Bay," says MLML executive director Lisa Uttal. "Inside, we have openness, natural light, and a view that inspires our work."

In 2004, MLML achieved coveted Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council; the facility meets standards set by the council's LEED-EB (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design for Existing Buildings) program. "We're aiming for Platinum," Lisa says.

Platinum or Gold, the MLML is a shining example of ecofriendly design.

For a schedule of public activities at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, visit www.mlml.calstate.edu. Visit usgbc.org/LEED/homes for a residential checklist, to be released in February 2007.

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