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NOAA Sanctuary Exploration Center Breaks Ground in Santa Cruz

July 12, 2010

Artist rendering of new Sanctuary Exploration Center.

Artist rendering of new Sanctuary Exploration Center at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The project is scheduled for completion in Winter 2011.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Officials from NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the City of Santa Cruz broke ground today  (July 12), on the 12,000-square-foot Sanctuary Exploration Center. Located in Santa Cruz’ famed beach area, the center will function as the sanctuary’s premier interactive interpretive facility.

“The Sanctuary Exploration Center will encourage visitors to explore the marine environment and issues impacting the sanctuary,” said Paul Michel, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent.  “The experience will personalize the vital role of protecting one of the nation’s most ecologically significant and stunning underwater treasures.”

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the City of Santa Cruz and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation are collaborating in a public-private partnership to design, construct and furnish the Sanctuary Exploration Center.  

The center will be located within a district rich in visitor-oriented facilities and recreational attractions. An estimated 3.5 million people per year visit this area.

“This building will be so much more than just a static property,” said Larry Robinson, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. “It will be infused with dedicated staff, and within its walls the wonders of our ocean world will be explored and a passion for learning will be fostered.”

The site was chosen after the sanctuary, working in conjunction with AMS Planning and Research, studied 23 locations along California’s central coast. Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council reviewed the findings and recommended locating the Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz in partnership with the city on the 3/4-acre city-owned property.

Construction will begin in fall of 2010, with completion projected for winter of 2011. THA Architects of Portland have designed the center to certification standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and precise requirements of sustainable design elements and practices. Plans for the center call for exhibits, classroom, administrative space and a gift shop.

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary stretches along the central California coast and encompasses more than 6,094 square miles of ocean area. Renowned for its scenic beauty and remarkable productivity, the sanctuary protects one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us on Facebook.