NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center - La Jolla, CA

On an extraordinary California coastal site, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently built a new facility to replace its Southwest Fisheries Science Center. The 3.305-acre cliffside site enables NOAA to continue its long-term partnership with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The bluff’s steep grade and ecological sensitivity limited the options available for building sites, design, and construction methods.

Working with JBC, Gould Evans' design for the new building incorporates many sustainable strategies such as, elaborate water retention systems, recycled materials, and vegetated roofs planted with California coastal plantings to restore endangered native ecology on building rooftops.

JBC designed a series of green roof gardens as stepped landscape terraces. These gardens serve as a public model for sustainable practices in accordance with the agency’s mission of public environmental education. JBC met the challenge to provide native plant restoration, agronomic green roof soils, and water distribution systems within narrow green roof soil profiles. Set into the cliff, the new facility blends into its broad setting with roofs reflecting the natural processes, habitat, and ecology of the native coastal dune community.



  • Gould Evans Associates

  • Wimmer, Yamada, and Caughey

  • RECON Native Plants, Inc.

  • Gibbens Drake Scott Inc.

Site Features 

  • Green Roof Plants all native of San Diego County

  • LEED Gold Certified

  • Corporate Campus Plaza

  • Restoration of Native Ecology

  • Extensive Green Roof System



“With the little bit of rain that we get every so often this winter, the sage smells utterly fabulous and fills the walkways with the scent of the chaparral. The hummers are everywhere and the first blossoms of spring are filling the courtyard with yellows and purples. What a pleasure to work with JBC and what an awesome outstanding over-the-top job.”

-Sarah Mesnick, SWFSC Science Liaison


  • 2016 American Society of Landscape Architects/ Central States Region - Merit Award

  • 2014 American Society of Irrigation Consultants Excellence in Irrigation - Merit Award 

  • 2013 ACEC California - Engineering Excellence Merit Award