“It is as if the building is literally alive. I can feel the energy. It is apparent that the facility will foster not only more and better internal collaboration but also will attract external collaborators. This is truly a world-class facility. Your vision for and work on the NCWCP was nothing short of genius.”
Nearly all meteorological data collected globally arrives here for analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s environmental scientists.
To support the organization’s mission of understanding and predicting changes in the earth’s environment, the design reduces the Center’s impact on the environment and physically embodies man’s 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.
The north elevation features continuous horizontal bands of windows that allow sweeping views into the woodland preserve. The south elevation consists of a curtain wall with sunscreens that reduce solar heat gain and act as light shelves that bounce daylight deep into interior spaces. Visible from the interior, the lower roof surfaces are vegetative planes. These surfaces surround the sweeping, inclined central roof that rises from the building entry to an apex at the cupola. Here, within the facility’s highest occupied space, researchers collect atmospheric data.
Designed as a central gathering space, the five-story atrium encourages the informal interaction between scientists and administrators that is crucial to the development of science. With the main stairs and amenities clustered around it, this atrium becomes the building’s social and emotional center.
Sustainable design strategies include water-sensitive site design, bioretention, energy performance optimization, natural daylighting, enhanced indoor air quality and increased thermal comfort and control.
A large, extensive green roof covers a majority of the roof surface, functioning as the building’s “fifth elevation.” Excess stormwater runoff from the roof moves down a waterfall by an outdoor dining terrace to a rain garden, where it collects and filters through wetland plantings. An underground cistern collects on-grade stormwater runoff to reuse for site irrigation.
The site’s planting palette features native and adapted species that can withstand challenging heat and drought conditions with little irrigation. The variety of native grasses, perennials, ferns and shrubs weave together in broad drifts beneath scattered trees, creating the feeling that the building has risen out of a natural landscape.
268,000 sq. ft. / 24,900 sq. m.
Merit Award - ASLA Potomac and Maryland
Best Mid-Atlantic Government/Public Building Project - Engineering News-Record
14 March 2013
“Swirling Forms for NOAA’s New Digs”
Architects + Artisans
1 February 2013
“National Center for Climate and Weather Protection”
Landscape Architect and Specifier News
10 December 2012
“Best Government/Public Buildings: New NOAA Weather Center Interacts With Weather”
22 October 2012
“Video: HOK’s Roger Schwabacher on NOAA’s New Center for Weather and Climate Prediction”
FOX 5 WTTG Washington, DC
16 October 2012
“Opening of NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction: Potential Game
Changer in Forecasting”
The Washington Post
15 October 2012
“NOAA’s World-Class Weather and Climate Prediction Center Opens at University of Maryland at College Park”
15 October 2012
“GSA Commemorates the Opening of the NOAA Weather Facility at the University of Maryland”
The GSA Blog