Architect: Fisheries center designed to protect views

Although a 124,000-square-foot building planned for the National Marine Fisheries Service Science Center has raised concerns about bluff erosion and loss of prime ocean views, at least one person beside the designers said it’s not all bad.

Retired scientist Mike Costello, a Bird Rock resident and La Jolla Community Planning Association member, seemed to speak for others when he said, “I’m concerned with bluff erosion,” he said. “The other issues are parking and traffic.”

But he also said. “A lot of people thought at first that this might be a monster, six-story building. The view-saving feature - that’s the best part.”

Costello was part of a small crowd gathered at the existing science center complex at 8604 La Jolla Shores Drive for a meeting on Dec. 10 about the project. The proposed $104.5 million facility, to be located on a parcel leased from UCSD, would be woven into the natural environment, replacing the existing aging center.

‘On the edge’

James Manitakos of Scripps Research Institute said the old building is “a hazard very close to the bluff edge. Also, this facility is 40-something years old and doesn’t meet modern seismic standards.”

Project architect Michael Wilkes of Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker, which specializes in designing scientific and laboratory complexes, said, “The most important thing was to nestle the project into the hillside.”

He added, “The goal was to create many facets and create a village, much like the neighboring villages.”

‘Minimal obstruction’

Wilkes said there would be minimal view obstruction with the current building design.

“We’ll be pushing the building down as low as we can,” he said. “There will only be a slight break in the blue-water view. It’s not going to extend any further into the horizon views.”

Plans for the replacement fisheries facility also call for providing 202 underground parking spaces on three levels.

‘Burying’ the cars

“All the parking is buried inside the building,” noted Wilkes. “This will take 200 cars off the street.”

The public has until Jan. 12 to comment on a draft environmental impact statement for the replacement science center facility. The draft environmental impact statement is available for public viewing online at

Fisheries officials said the project will have to be reviewed by the California Coastal Commission, as well as the UC Board of Regents. It will not have to be reviewed by the city Planning Commission or City Council.