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Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center: Phase I Landscape

Landscape Performance Benefits


  • Sequesters approximately 5.6 tons of carbon and intercepts 47,800 gallons of rainwater in 209 new trees.
  • Reduces annual potable water consumption by 82,750 gallons or 54% through the use of a water-efficient irrigation system compared to a conventional system.
  • Reduces average air temperatures on portions of the site by 1.7°F when compared to nearby areas that closely resemble what was there before redevelopment.


  • Improves quality of life for 72% of the 15 faculty, staff, and student survey repondents; providing a place to be outdoors, improving perception of the area, and reducing stress were the main reasons cited.
  • Provides a space for outdoor educational activities for 60% of survey respondents. 87% consider the incorporation of fragments of coral and glass into site materials to be educational.


  • Contributed to the creation of 300 jobs during construction and after project completion, including 44 full-time positions and 50 graduate student assistantships related to oceanographic research.

At a Glance

  • Designer


  • Project Type

    Waterfront redevelopment

  • Former Land Use


  • Location

    8000 North Ocean Drive
    Hollywood, Florida 33004
    Map it

  • Climate Zone

    Tropical rainforest

  • Size

    6 acres

  • Budget


  • Completion Date


The Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center is the largest coral reef research center in the world. The 87,000 sf coral reef research facility occupies a 6-acre site on the 10-acre campus nestled within John Lloyd Beach State Park with easy access to Florida’s reef tract. The campus site was originally a much smaller and less advanced oceanographic facility comprising a marina along with minor multi-use buildings used for classrooms, general office space, and the storage of research equipment. As the enrollment of students increased, the facility became overcrowded, while equipment also became outdated. The new facility provides advanced tools and resources for students, researchers, and the community to study oceanographic and environmental issues affecting one of earth’s greatest natural resources: coral reef ecosystems. The landscape design reduces the center’s impact on the larger park and contributed to the facility’s LEED-NC Silver certification through the use of environmentally-friendly strategies like shared parking, smart irrigation, and recycled materials. The new center has also created job opportunities, providing an economic and social stimulus to South Florida.


Local regulations dictated a strict guideline for the landscape architect to work within when designing the parking lot and landscaped areas: the ratio of impervious to pervious surface could not increase from the existing condition. This meant that 70% of the site had to remain pervious, while still accommodating a substantial amount of new parking and outdoor facilities.


The design managed to increase close to 1% of pervious surfaces within Phase I by increasing the amount of operative landscape areas for conducting research. The increase in perviousness will help reduce some risks of stormwater runoff overflow and may serve as a scheme in connection to the future developments of Phase II and III. Through careful design, the landscape architect was able to balance the design program needs to ensure compliance with local regulations.

  • The site design increased functional open space by approximately 34% with roughly 2 acres of landscape that has easy pedestrian access to conduct research, host events, and sit.
  • Runoff from the roof, road, parking lot, and hardscape surfaces is collected and managed through a network of catch basins and infiltration trenches. When the quantity of rainfall is large, or the duration of storm is extended, the runoff can be stored in two detention basins, where it slowly percolates into the soil or evaporates.
  • The center contains 8,354 sf of secured outdoor land-based coral nursery areas. Corals are cultured in 18 tanks ranging from 80 gal to 1,000 gal. When specimens grown on site reach an appropriate size and age, they are then transplanted to reefs in the ocean. Coral reefs play an important role as natural barriers that help protect coastal cities from the impacts of storm surge. They also support an estimated 25% of all marine life.
  • 209 new trees were added in a variety of native species, including gumbo limbos, cabbage palms, silver buttonwoods, and live oaks. 45 existing trees were removed to thier poor condition.
  • The design incorporates small recycled fragments of coral skeletons and glass into walkways, walls, and pre-cast materials. These cover 15,100 sf or 5.8% of the site and serve both decorative and educational purposes.
  • Durable materials such as reinforced concrete paving, 14 steel benches, and an aluminum bike rack were chosen to withstand ocean salt spray, winds, and the severe weather events that periodically affect South Florida’s coastal areas. These materials will not corrode or degrade quickly.
  • The parking lot provides spaces for both the university and state park visitors. Because peak demand for each occurs at different times, the shared parking allowed the total number of parking spaces to be reduced.
  • The use of an efficient irrigation system reduces potable water consumption by 82,750 gallons annually as compared to a conventional irrigation system. This saves approximately $800 in annual irrigation water costs.
  • By creating a shared parking lot, Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center and the State Park save on installation and maintenance costs. If a second 127-space parking lot were needed, it would cost approximately $381,000 to install and $38,100 to maintain with a surface asphalt overlay ever 8-15 years.
  • Fairly uncommon for a project of this scale, the landscape architect led the master planning and coordinated several internal and public meetings with the facility’s scientists, faculty, students, researchers, and community during the planning and preliminary design phase. This stakeholder involvement played a key role in the redevelopment of the campus, transforming it into a highly respected facility for coral reef ecosystem research.
  • The project was initially proposed as a whole but later divided into three phases in order to better utilize funds as they became available and address the needs of the primary users in order of demand. The success of phase one has led to the development of the two additional phases.

Irrigation: Rainbird
Furniture: Landscape Forms
Plants: Aucamp’s Nursery
Hardscape: Hanson Pavers (Oldcastle)
Lighting: Spectra Lighting, Cyclone Lighting, Hunza Lighting

Project Team

Landscape Architect: EDSA, Inc.
Owner: Nova Southeastern University
Design-Builder: Moss/Miller, LLC
Architect: Cannon Design ACAI Associates, Inc.
Engineers: Cannon Design, Craven Thompson & Associates, Inc. Bliss & Nyitray, Inc.
Specialty Consultant: Tenji, Inc. Cannon Design Dunkelberger Engineering & Testing, Inc.
Specialty Contractor: JD Backhoe
Other Key Professionals: Lotspeich Company of Florida, Inc., Summers Fire Sprinklers, Inc., Right Way Plumbing Company, Hill York Service Corporation Crawford Tracey Corporation Baker Concrete Construction C. Davis Electric Co., Inc.

Role of the Landscape Architect

The landscape architect led in the development of the master plan and landscape design of the Oceanographic Center. EDSA also initiated and developed the grant submittal for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) grant that funded the center’s redevelopment. NIST awarded the project $15 million, which was the maximum amount given in its nationwide competition. Additionally, the landscape architect served as the university’s representative in coordinating with federal, state, and local jurisdictions during the development, design, and construction of the center. Since 1992, EDSA has provided master planning, design, and construction administration services for the university.


Water conservation, Temperature & urban heat island, Carbon sequestration & avoidance, Health & well-being, Educational value, Job creation, Trees, Reused/recycled materials, Rainwater harvesting, Bioretention, Native plants, Efficient irrigation

The LPS Case Study Briefs are produced by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), working in conjunction with designers and/or academic research teams to assess performance and document each project. LAF has no involvement in the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of the projects. See the Project Team tab for details. If you have questions or comments on the case study itself, contact us at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

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