After a few design revisions and a handful of community reviews in recent years, UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla will unveil its Ted and Jean Scripps Marine Conservation and Technology Facility on Tuesday, May 30.
The new building will house the institution’s Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and feature state-of-the-art laboratories, instruction space, and areas to develop and test new instruments to study the vitality of marine ecosystems.
“The building is designed to promote collaboration … among the students, staff and faculty working in the building as well as between the broader public with our ocean-facing community at Scripps,” Stuart Sandin, a Scripps marine ecologist and director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, told the La Jolla Light. “We have a number of innovative laboratories in the building, including a huge, future-looking experimental aquarium facility, a cutting-edge visualization laboratory and a kitchen-classroom for experimenting with sustainable seafood. By coupling these laboratories with our classical university facilities of research labs and teaching spaces, [the facility] will be a hub for learning about the ocean and the human relationship with the sea.”
The 24,269-square-foot building, designed by Safdie Rabines Architects, includes a 100-seat lecture hall, two class laboratories with live organism study and marine chemistry, conference rooms, an additional 10 research labs, and a new center for presentation of data sources.
The basement will be devoted almost entirely to a research aquarium that will have salt water pumped from the Pacific Ocean through the Scripps Pier seawater system. The aquarium will enable scientists to conduct research using organisms from multiple habitats, simulate future climate scenarios, train students on various research techniques and test new technology to use in marine environments.
“[The facility] will be a hub for learning about the ocean and the human relationship with the sea.”
— Stuart Sandin, director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation
“The Ted and Jean Scripps Marine Conservation and Technology Facility represents a new era for Scripps,” said Margaret Leinen, vice chancellor for marine sciences at UC San Diego and director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “The focus on solutions-inspired science will shape our approach to protecting vital global marine resources and provide an unparalleled teaching environment for us to train the next generation of scientific leaders.”
In 2017, when the project was known as the UC San Diego Marine Conservation Facility, local planners gave it mixed responses.
While the La Jolla Shores Association was complimentary of the design, the La Jolla Community Planning Association was worried about the size of the building and the impact its construction could have on public views.
“We put a lot of attention into making sure the building didn’t come up and block the view from the road,” Steve Gallagher, then-assistant vice chancellor at Scripps Oceanography, said at the time. “So the existing building and new additions are, to a large extent, hidden by vegetation.”
Nevertheless, two months after the initial presentation to LJCPA, Scripps revised the plans to create more of an ocean view around the proposed development. The updated plans included reducing the height of a second story and removing a cluster of non-native trees to create more of a view for pedestrians.
In 2021, UCSD announced a $6 million gift from members of the Scripps family to support the new facility and be granted naming rights to honor Jean and the late Edward “Ted” Scripps.
Ellen Browning Scripps and her brother E.W. Scripps were the financial driving force behind the founding of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1903, when it was called the Marine Biological Association of San Diego. ◆