San Pedro has slowly been reshaping and reinvigorating its industrial waterfront. One of the new and exciting projects coming to the Port of LA is the marine biology campus, AltaSea. This 35-acre marine research center will take over City Dock No. 1, a vacant century-old pier, with a mix of public plazas and private research facilities. AltaSea joins the San Pedro Public Market, Downtown Harbor Plaza, and Fanfare Fountains as the next transformative project planned for the burgeoning San Pedro waterfront.
The public-private partnership bringing AltaSea to San Pedro is dedicated to unlocking the potential of the ocean to generate innovative solutions to global challenges of human and environmental sustainability. It will expand scientific-based understanding of the ocean, incubate and sustain ocean-related businesses, and pioneer new ocean-related education programs. Rejuvenation is woven into the design of each part of the overall campus: the tower’s renewable energy models, the rooftop solar fields and the renovation of the dock’s historic structures all speak to this purpose of AltaSea.
UPDATE September 2018
AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles has met a major milestone in its lease agreement with the Port of Los Angeles. The non-profit institution has rapidly raised over $8 million in funds to build out the first phase of its 35-acre center for ocean-focused science research, STEM-based education and sustainable business incubation.
“This is an important milestone for AltaSea, and we expect many major announcements to come as we catalyze the Port’s expansion into new innovative markets that will allow it to continue to power our region’s economy for decades to come,” said AltaSea CEO Tim McOsker. “These dedicated construction funds are tangible proof of the broad-ranging energy, momentum and support behind our vision.”
AltaSea initiatives to date have helped attract cutting-edge companies to the LA Waterfront, such as Boeing, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and SpaceX, helping to create a cluster of science, business and education at the Port and establishing Los Angeles as an emerging leader for the Blue Economy.
Having met the lease terms, AltaSea will take full possession of three warehouses on City Dock No. 1 with deep-water dock access – Buildings 58, 59 and 60 – as well as a vacant parcel of about 1 acre next to Building 58. Each of the warehouses encloses 60,000 sq. ft., giving AltaSea control over 180,000 sq. ft. of space that already has multiple tenants, including aquaculture pioneer Catalina Sea Ranch, and logistics-services provider Water Taxi.
Partners and tenants already using facilities at AltaSea include Boeing’s undersea autonomous vehicle team, a robotics research group from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Library, Blue Robotics, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Los Angeles Harbor, the Ocean Exploration Trust, the La Kretz Blue Economy Incubator, and business-development advisors Braid Theory.
Renderings Released 2016
The first phase of the campus is expected to be open by 2017. Architecture and design firm Gensler has released renderings for AltaSea. The design centers around five distinct parts (courtesy Gensler):
LA Waterfront Promenade
Altasea creates a vital link in the chain of public works projects activating the waterfront along San Pedro’s neighborhoods and the Port of LA. The campus buildings are knit together by public plazas, parks and walkways from east to west and north to south inviting visitors to walk, bike and run through the campus, or stop and explore it more deeply. Central to this is the creation of Linear Park, which will run parallel between Signal Street and Warehouses 57-60. This will be an education park where much of the seawater supply infrastructure that is the lifeblood of AltaSea will be made visible along its length for visitors to learn about the various stages of its filtration, use, and reuse before it is naturally cleansed and circulated back into the ocean. Wharf Plaza, where sea-going research vessels will dock, and an Education Pavilion will punctuate Linear Park and lend it pace and scale.
Berth 56: Engagement Center
The new Engagement Center is intended to be the design centerpiece of the campus and will introduce the public to AltaSea’s mission. It will house public education and exhibition programming, allowing school children and students to explore the sciences of the ocean.
The building’s design is inspired by the movement of the ocean to land and the landforms that result from this ocean energy. As such, the architecture addresses The Port’s East Channel as a landscape, enabling visitors to experience the blending of architecture and water through specifically choreographed moments as they move through the building. These moments are intended to re-energize the spirit through the various ways the building’s design reframes the ocean and the horizon beyond.
Warehouse 57: Science Hub
The adaptive reuse of the historic Warehouse 57 provides the AltaSea campus with a state-of-the-art Science Hub for oceanographic and marine biology programs. The building contains over 60,000 square feet of classroom and lab space, flanked by an elevated public promenade with overlook-galleries along the entirety of the 500-foot long building. The space convenes and supports the world’s best marine scientists as they conduct breakthrough research and discover solutions to environmental problems. Once a warehouse where the processing of goods transitioned from sea to land, now the building’s purpose has evolved to be a place where the ocean and people arrive to solve the problems of the earth.
Warehouses 58-60: Research and Business Hub
The Research and Business Hub at AltaSea is housed in 180,000 square feet of adaptive reuse space throughout Warehouses’ 58-60. These spaces will nurture new and existing businesses that commercialize scientific breakthroughs and emerging technologies to create ocean-related products that advance our society’s harmony with nature while also creating services and local jobs.
The Viewing Structure
The Viewing Structure, which is proposed for a future phase of construction, is designed to be a learning beacon that allows visitors to access an overlook of the entire campus, the Port of Los Angeles and the surrounding community of San Pedro. The legacy of lighthouses in San Pedro will find its next iteration here, but instead of emitting energy, this structure will harvest and employ advanced forms of energy generation. It will also include equipment that studies the climate and reports back on the energy-use and generation of the campus as a whole. As a beacon for the campus, it will mark the place where our new future will begin.
AltaSea will play an important role in the re-examination of our most fundamental resource – the ocean – for the betterment of all humankind. It not only intends to establish a place where we can create a more harmonious relationship with the ocean and its resources, it is also designed to stir the emotions we all feel when confronted with its silent power. This is a common past we can all use to build our future – one of hope and aspiration.
For more information and updates, visit the Alta Sea website.