North Carolina’s First “Green” Oyster Hatchery Starts Construction in Wilmington

Architect's model of the future Oyster Research Hatchery at UNC-Wilmington
Architect's model of the future Oyster Research Hatchery at UNC-Wilmington

September 9, 2009 (WILMINGTON, NC) – Construction on the “green” Oyster Hatchery Research facility at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, NC, has begun this week, heralding improvement of the state’s oyster population and, in turn, cleaner coastal waters. And both will emanate from in an environmentally sustainable building.

The onset of construction is the result of an effort that began in 2006 when the North Carolina Aquarium Division asked Raleigh-based architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, a nationally recognized leader in sustainable, or “green,” design, to work with the state’s new Oyster Hatchery Program to determine the feasibility for three eco-friendly oyster hatchery facilities along the North Carolina coast.

According to the study, the oyster population in North Carolina has declined an estimated 90 percent in the early 1900s. Habitat loss, decline of water quality, diseases and over harvesting have all contributed to this dramatic decline. This not only affects a major segment of the state’s fishing industry, but it also impacts water quality since one adult oyster can filter sediment and pollutants out of 15-50 gallons of water per day. When the oyster population was at its peak, for example, entire estuaries like the Pamlico Sound could be filtered and cleaned in a matter of days.

The state’s three future oyster hatchery facilities would produce billions of eyed larvae to help reestablish the state’s oyster population. They would also educate the public on the oyster’s value to the quality of coastal waters.

The 12,000-square-foot Oyster Hatchery Research facility being built on the Center for Marine Sciences campus at UNC-Wilmington is the first phase of implementing the study, and is now part of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries.

In accord with the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ policy requiring sustainable and green building practices wherever feasible for state-owned buildings, the Oyster Hatchery Research facility will preserve trees and topography and retain 100 percent of stormwater on site to be used to in cleaning the interior. Harmon also designed the robust building to allow fresh air ventilation during good weather to eliminate the need for HVAC during spring and fall. Primary construction materials are steel and brick, the latter required on the predominately brick UNC-W campus. Recycled materials are used wherever possible.

Construction should be completed by May of 2010.

For more information on the North Carolina Oyster Hatchery Program, go to www.ncoysters.com. For more information on Frank Harmon and this specific project, visit www.frankharmon.com.

About Frank Harmon

Frank Harmon Architect PA, a multi-award-winning firm headquartered in downtown Raleigh, has extensive experience with projects that blend architecture with enhancement of and education about natural resources, including the recently completed Walnut Creek Urban Wetlands Park Educational Center in Raleigh, Duke University’s Ocean Science Teaching Center in Beaufort, NC, the Walter B. Jones Center for the Sounds, Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Columbia, NC, and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ Prairie Ridge Eco-Station in Raleigh. The firm is currently anticipating the opening of the NC Botanical Garden’s new Visitors Center in Chapel Hill and Merchants Millpond Outdoor Educational building in Gatesville, N.C. For more information, go to www.frankharmon.com

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