Location Ocean Springs, MS
Client University of Southern Mississippi
Architect Lake|Flato Architects
Associate Architect unabridged Architecture
Design Team Lake|Flato: Bob Harris, FAIA; Matt Wallace, AIA; Grave Boudewyns; AIA; Phil Zimmerman; unabridged Architecture: John Anderson, AIA;
Allison Anderson, FAIA
Contractor Starks Contracting
MEP Engineer TLC Engineering
Structural Engineer Datum Engineering
Lighting Designer David Nelson & Associates
Environmental Consultant BMI Environmental Services
Landscape Architect Studio Outside

In 2005, the previous Marine Education Center at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. A second storm impacted the site during schematic design, and a third, Hurricane Nate, hit during construction. It became clear that the new facility would need to be resilient, sustainable, and durable. The use of wood was a primary focus of the design to unite the Center to the adjacent pine flatwood forest. The education facility includes outdoor classrooms, laboratories, administration offices, assembly spaces, exhibition areas, and a pedestrian suspension bridge. The team consulted with biologists and site ecologists to assess the flora and fauna in three predetermined zones, ultimately choosing the building zone with the least sensitive ecosystem, access to open water, and suitable building elevation to serve as protection in the event of a natural disaster. White oak was used on the interiors for millwork and accent paneling, and southern yellow pine was chosen for primary structures. Given the material’s prevalence in Mississippi, any future repairs can be quickly and easily accommodated.

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