Santa Cruz, California
Completed in 2012
The National Marine Sanctuary Program, the City of Santa Cruz, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) teamed to develop the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) Exploration Center located in the active Beach Boardwalk area of Santa Cruz, California. This sanctuary is a federally protected marine area offshore of California’s central coast, encompassing 276 miles of shoreline and 6,094 square miles of ocean. The Exploration Center provides approximately 350,000 visitors annually a unique hands-on introduction to the diverse ecosystem of California’s central coast and encourages stewardship of the ocean and shoreline.
The Center, which is free to the public, attracts visitors to come, explore and learn in the vibrant “amusement park” atmosphere of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. The transparent and highly interactive interpretive center has five primary program elements: exhibit space, classroom, administrative offices, gift shop and building support. The dynamic building form and materials were inspired by California coastal architecture and natural forms, such as wave crests and shells, to attract the public into the exhibit and educational spaces.