Sep 08, 2020

New Home for Ocean Education

The Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership is a fresh new presence on the Monterey peninsula. And it’s the largest physical expansion of the Bay Area’s beloved Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Supporting a mission to cultivate and inspire next gen ocean conservation leaders, the new facility provides learning spaces and work areas to deliver no-cost, hands-on educational offerings for 80,000 students annually and it doubles the capacity for their teen and teacher programming.

Cavagnero Associates designed this new addition to historic Cannery Row, providing immersive educational experiences and expansive ocean views throughout the building. The Peninsula Business Interiors team worked with Cavagnero and the MBA staff to select and install the perfect furnishings to support active learning.

The 25,000 square foot, four-story, concrete-frame structure with roof garden references the design of the main Aquarium building just blocks away. Massive windows provide natural light to the interior environment, they connect the building to the community and they contextualize the educational programming purpose with expansive Pacific Ocean views. The interior finishes were selected to bring the colors and materials from nature inside.

Generous staff spaces and classrooms offer flexibility and transparency, and four STEM learning labs with live animal exhibits are fed by a closed loop seawater life support system. Every Monterey Bay Aquarium environment intends to engage and inspire appreciation for oceans and nature, and the new Education Center frames that intention beautifully.

There are literally tens of thousands of students who cannot wait for those doors to open.