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

By Susan Haynes
December 05, 2006
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
Courtesy of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

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

Originating in an old Moss Landing cannery, MLML has served asan ocean-studies mecca for students from seven California StateUniversity campuses since 1966. Its new home, designed bySmithGroup of San Francisco, opened in 2000 and uses naturalmaterials that complement the setting. The structure seems to riseorganically amid 21 acres of fragrant eucalyptus trees, native duneplants, and water. "We're surrounded by the [Moro Coho] Slough, theSalinas River, and mudflats, and we overlook Monterey Bay," saysMLML 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 thecouncil's LEED-EB (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Designfor Existing Buildings) program. "We're aiming for Platinum," Lisasays.

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

For a schedule of public activities at Moss Landing MarineLaboratories, visit for aresidential checklist, to be released in February 2007.