2011-12 Sustainable Lab

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) is pleased to announce the International Sustainable Laboratory Student Design Competition for the 2011-2012 academic year. Inspired by the success of the Laboratories for the 21st Century (Labs21) Student Design Competition (2003-2004), the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) is hosting the International Sustainable Laboratory Student Design Competition with the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) of the U.S. Department of the Interior and in collaboration with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the Joint Institute for Caribbean Marine Studies (JICMS).


This competition will enable architecture and engineering students from around the world to provide new and innovative thinking in the creation of energy-efficient and environmentally-sustainable laboratories.

The competition will focus on the proposed Salt River Bay Marine Research and Education Center (MREC), to be located within Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve (SARI) a unit of the National Park Service (NPS) on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

The Marine Research and Education Center will be located on a 96-acre site on the eastern edge of Salt River Bay, along the north central coast of St. Croix. Salt River Bay, which extends from ridge to reef surrounded by intact red mangroves and sheltered by coral barrier reef, has extensive cultural and archeological significance, featuring remains of two pre-historic Taino villages and a ball court established more than 2,000 years ago. On November 14, 1493, Christopher Columbus’ party came ashore at Salt River Bay, the only site now in U.S. territory visited by Columbus’ party. For the last 40 years Salt River Bay has been the site of long term marine research including NOAA National Undersea Research Program saturation diving habitats, Hydrolab and Aquarius, 1977-1989.

The Marine Research and Education Center, a 60,000-square foot campus, will support marine research and education programs for undergraduate and graduate university students, in addition to marine science and environmental education programs for primary and secondary school-age students and adults , and include an archeological field school highlighting Caribbean Studies.

Participants in the design competition are encouraged to provide new and innovative thinking for the Marine Research and Education Center design, to produce the most energy-efficient and environmentally-sustainable designs possible. Students will be required to develop integrated design and engineering strategies for the educational laboratory and address the off-grid utility infrastructures needed for the campus. The designs will respond to the climatic, geophysical, environmental, and resource challenges of the site and its location on a tropical island adjacent to sensitive marine resources in a National Park. Strategies must minimize impacts to the viewshed or historic landscape, coastal habitats, cultural resources, and other adjacencies.

Students must creatively pursue the highest level of energy and environmental sustainability through the integration of design and engineering strategies that take into account the operation and maintenance of the laboratory facility and the campus. Students should view their submissions as concepts that will incentivize the use of their strategies throughout the Caribbean basin.

Sustainably designed buildings seek to reduce or eliminate their impact on the environment through reduced energy use and resource efficiency. The building industry - encompassing facility design, construction, engineering, and facility operation - is seeking to develop, redevelop, and retrofit buildings that are healthy, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective. The goal is to minimize natural resource consumption while enhancing social and economic benefits.

This competition seeks to explore and develop ideas, systems, and applications utilizing sustainable designs for the Marine Research and Education Center laboratory and campus, based on the actual building program of the facility and the project goals of the partners.