National Estuarine Research Reserve
Jackson County, Mississippi

The Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is a protected natural marine preserve located in the most southeastern of Mississippi, near the small community of Pecan.  The sanctuary is comprised of approximately 18,000 acres and contains a variety of wetland habitats, such as pine savannas, salt marshes, saltpans, bays and bayous as well as terrestrial habitats that are unique to the coastal zone such as maritime forests.

Designed in association with Lord Aeck Sargent Architects, this 22,000-square foot research and interpretive center is located at the heart of the preserve and represents a rare partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  As the first LEED Gold Certified facility in the State of Mississippi, it houses interpretive exhibits, education and conference spaces, administrative and research offices, research laboratory space, and guest housing for visiting scientists and graduate students.

The building is also intended to be a working example of building safely and responsibly in high wind and flood prone regions along the Gulf Coast.  Innovative design features include the use of foundation trusses used to elevate the structure while also providing horizontal stability; and an elevated courtyard area which helps offset the perceived 10′ difference in elevation between existing grade and finish floor.  Sustainable design strategies include the use of daylight harvesting to optimize the building’s thermal performance; rainwater harvesting to reduce potable water demand; extensive use of recycled materials throughout; and use of pervious landscaping surfaces to reduce the amount of storm water runoff from the site


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