Clark Nexsen

Clark Nexsen

Virginia Beach, VA


UNC Coastal Studies Institute

2013 AIA North Carolina Honor Award
2013 Virginia Society AIA Architecture Merit Award  

The Coastal Studies Institute is a new research and teaching campus within the University of North Carolina system located in Manteo along the Croatan Sound of Roanoke Island. CSI was conceived to fill the research gap in this part of the state, address the area’s pressing issues related to development and pressures on its natural resources, and increase inter-institutional collaboration within the university system. This facility is the product of a partnership between the UNC Office of the President, East Carolina University, Dare County and its citizens and other universities of the UNC system.

CSI was established in 2003 as a program allowing collaboration, resource sharing, and research program initiation and enhancement. The mission of the Institute is to undertake research, offer educational and community outreach programs, and enhance communication about the history, culture and environment of the maritime counties of North Carolina. The Institute focuses on four main areas: Estuarine Ecology and Human Health, Estuarine and Coastal Processes, Coastal Sustainability, and Maritime History.

The 63,190 SF, environmentally sustainable campus includes a research building with classrooms, research labs and offices and a separate marine service facility. The new CSI campus gives scientists a base in eastern North Carolina for conducting research, and it provides a new regional resource facility for coastal education.

Sustainability was a key priority for this project and CSI was designed to receive LEED Silver certification. The design of the facility is based on the interwoven relationship between architecture and landscape. The main research building is elevated, allowing the natural landscape to continue beneath the building while providing panoramic views of the wetlands and the Croatan Sound. A cost-effective geothermal HVAC system utilizes untreated Dare County well water as the geothermal energy source with minimal impact on the coastal environment.

Photographs © Mark Herboth Photography

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Status: Built
Location: Manteo, NC, US
Firm Role: Architecture, Interiors, Sustainable Design
Additional Credits: Kahoon & Casten - Associate Architects
RMF Engineering - MEP Engineering
Whiting-Turner Contracting Company - General Contractor