Miller Hull

Center for Coastal Studies at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA
Everyone on campus thinks the Center for Coastal Studies is incredible. To take a building that we thought was beyond repair and renovate it with such environmental consciousness – it’s pretty special. Camilla Ingram, University of California at San Diego
Client Scripps Institute of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego
Certifications LEED Gold
Size 11,000 SF
Completion 2020


Originally a saltwater storage facility, the new Center for Coastal Studies sits atop the seawall, immersed in the physical environs of its study – the intersection of earth and water

As climate change bears on, institutions like the Center for Coastal Studies at Scripps become even more vital in their quest to understand coastal processes and the threats of our warming planet.

The coastal environment is harsh on built structures. Its winds and waves and moisture slowly deteriorate whatever they touch, and as a result, the old facility was in disrepair and in need of significant upgrades to better support the Center’s mission.

Focused on long term durability while maximizing reduction in embodied and operational carbon, the new facility preserves the original concrete storage tank, maintaining the significant carbon investment already in place.  Carbon-fiber reinforcement was employed to maximize new operable apertures in the robust concrete walls, allowing view of the ocean and supporting more than 50% of the building to operate with no active cooling.

The upper floor was reconstructed completely, replacing a labyrinth of closed offices with an open plan, further enhancing connection to the outdoors.  Increased window area on the south, west, and north façades provides natural ventilation, ample daylight, and an expanded view of the ocean and the coastline.

Wood is a major part of the historic SIO campus vernacular, however, with proximity to the ocean, maintenance is an issue.  By utilizing resilient material such as treated red cedar and garapa wood on the exterior, products naturally resist rot, decay, termites, and wear from the sun which enables the facility to age in place with minimal maintenance and no harmful chemical runoff. This also further reduces the project’s embodied carbon.

The new CCS facility is built to blend into the beautiful natural history of Scripps Campus, to operate as an extension of its environment, and to support the next generation of scientists who help us better understand and mitigate our impact on the coastal environment.

Project Team

Architect: The Miller Hull Partnership, LLP
Contractor: PCL Construction Services
Civil Engineer: Snipes-Dye Associates
Structural Engineer: Degenkolb
Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing Engineer: Randall Lamb Associates, Inc.