Gulf Coast Research Laboratory Marine Education Center, Cedar Point

As part of the process of listening to the land, a tree inventory is taken to minimize tree removal and to protect the environment of the site.

A research project to catalog animal life on the site was initiated in an effort to understand and monitor the impact of sensitive construction techniques. Buildings will be constructed on helical piers to minimize the disturbance of the soil, allow small animals to pass through and to let water from rain follow the pre-existing natural paths to the forested bayheads and bayous.

GCRL Marine Education Center at Cedar Point

Helical piers are manufactured steel foundations designed with helical bearing plates. The piers are mechanically rotated into the ground for support of structures.

Building materials are specified to be resilient to coastal flooding in the event of another major hurricane and to have minimal impact on the site. Building plans call for wet-flood proofing materials for the lower three feet of all walls in the complex. Materials like zinc and PVC are minimized or eliminated because of the harm they do in the marine environment. Window placement in the buildings take advantage of the expansive views and are positioned to capture daylight, reducing the amount of artificial lighting. Humidity control is separated from temperature controls in the design of the HVAC systems to reduce the amount of energy needed to maintain comfortable temperature/humidity settings in the buildings. The goal is to address the traditional southern summer phenomenon of wearing a sweater inside during the summer that comes from cranking the AC up to keep the humidity down.

Hallways and corridors are moved outside in the building design to reduce the energy footprint and to provide more time in the outdoors. A pedestrian bridge is included in the site design to protect one of the most sensitive areas of the site, the forested bayhead, but still allow viewing by visitors to capitalize on the environmental educational opportunities the bayhead presented. The bridge is designed to have only one set of footings and the placement of the single set of footings will be outside the sensitive zone.


“At the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, we know that building resiliently, especially near the water, means having low impact so that the site's ecosystems can continue to function through gradual seasonal and climatic changes and through abrupt changes such as hurricanes. The Marine Education Center is a great example of a resilient project for a coastal site. This facility will be a good teaching and learning tool for design professionals and property owners who want to build the right way in the coastal zone."

David Perkes
Director, Gulf Coast Design Studio



Miss Peetsy B.

“Each and every animal on earth has as much right to be here as you and me.”

Anthony Douglas