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18 October 2012

NOAA’s World-Class Center for Weather and Climate Prediction Opens at the University of Maryland

The federal government has officially opened NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Protection at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The 268,000 sq.-ft. building is home to more than 800 NOAA meteorologists, scientists, data managers and other employees who provide a wide range of environmental services and national weather forecasts. Billions of earth observations from around the world flow through environmental models developed in this new building.

To support NOAA’s mission of understanding and predicting changes in the environment, HOK’s design reduces the center’s impact on the environment and physically embodies our relationship to nature. Just as natural systems do not operate in straight lines, the building is configured in a series of curving wings that intersect in a central atrium. The building form is organic, with “waves” of space.

Officials will seek LEED Gold certification for the building, which Engineering News-Record selected as one of the best projects of 2012 in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Washington Post:

“A major goal of the new location is to spur collaboration beneficial to all parties involved. One of the major means of accomplishing these ends is to attract exceptionally qualified visiting scientists from academia and other national and international centers of environmental research and prediction. … There is no question the NCWCP makes possible opportunities for advances not possible otherwise.”

The GSA Blog:

“This facility gives NOAA the resources they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability. With sustainable features such as green roofs, bio-retention areas, recycled construction materials, highly energy efficient windows and motion based lighting systems, and a storm water cistern to collect water for irrigation, it provides value to both this agency and the taxpayers.”

“This innovative project is a perfect example of the kind of environmental and fiscally sustainable practices that are essential to the realizing the mission of GSA in the 21st century.”

NOAA News:

“Architects designed the energy-efficient building, equipped with a green roof and rainwater bio-retention, to reflect NOAA’s environment and science mission and the important public work carried out within its walls. The work environment encourages scientific interaction by co-locating scientists from across disciplines and creating an open concept design to promote greater communication and collaboration. Ultimately, integrating NOAA units – researchers and modelers, data managers, duty meteorologists and satellite analysts – will allow for more accurate environmental predictions, advanced ecosystem forecasting and acceleration of new ideas from research to operation.”

Watch a YouTube video of the ribbon-cutting ceremony.