OCEAN SPRINGS — The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) has selected Lake|Flato Architects of San Antonio, Texas, to design the new Marine Education Center (MEC), built to replace the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium lost during Hurricane Katrina.
Lake|Flato and its local partner, Unabridged Architecture of Bay St. Louis, will work with a team comprised of USM/GCRL staff and members of the community to create a building whose environmental features will be as much of an attraction as the nature surrounding it.
The new MEC will be built at the Cedar Point Site in Ocean Springs on 224 acres featuring maritime forests, marshes and access to Davis Bayou and the Mississippi Sound. GCRL directors envision a 32,000-square-foot complex with a mix of public exhibits, classrooms, laboratories, meeting spaces and administrative offices. A system of trails, boardwalks and outdoor classrooms, already under construction, will take the learning experiences beyond the building to make it a true nature center.
The Cedar Point Site is home to the Thad Cochran Aquaculture Center. Two key research groups, Microbiology and Genetics, have recently relocated from GCRL’s Halstead Road location to the new Aquaculture Research Building at the site. These facilities along with the Aquaculture Visitor Center serves to set the stage for the new MEC.
Last year MEC programs provided learning experiences for more than 4,000 participants ranging in age from 6 to 72 and representing over 30 states and several countries.