An Engineering Model for the Future


The Marine Studies building uses state-of-the-art architectural and engineering techniques to make it one of the first “vertical evacuation” tsunami sites in the United States. The building will also dramatically increase the Hatfield campus' marine science education and research capacity.

The building is designed to withstand a 9+ earthquake and to survive an XXL tsunami event. The building is designed to be repairable after a large (L) tsunami event.

A ramp on the outside of the building leads from the ground level to the roof of this three-story structure. The roof of the building is 47 feet high, and it is designed to serve as an emergency assembly site for more than 900 people after a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

OSU’s Marine Studies Building is designed to provide a safe place for people to gather after an earthquake, out of the path — and above the water — of a possible tsunami. Additionally, several horizontal evacuation paths exist from the HMSC campus, where people can walk to avoid the tsunami inundation. These routes include Safe Haven Hill west of Highway 101 and the Oregon Coast Community College to the south.

Vertical Evacuation:

The vertical evacuation solution enables people with limited mobility to evacuate the area. An elevator will be available 24/7 to take people to the top of the building. It is designed to operate on emergency power and will accommodate as many as 200 people in the 20-minute window between an earthquake and a tsunami. Others can access the top of the building via an exterior ramp or interior stairs. 

Building Facts:

  • Located at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, adjacent to Yaquina Bay.
  • $61.7 million building.
  • The 72,000 square-foot building includes a three-story academic and research center connected to a two-story wing with community space, an auditorium and other facilities.
  • Construction began in March 2018; the building is expected to open February 2020.
  • Yost Grube Hall, architects; Andersen Construction, general contractor.

Unique Foundations

Deep-soil mixing is a technique to stabilize the ground under a building. Augers are used to pull out existing soil and replace it with cement grout. In the case of the Marine Studies Building, the augers went nearly 100 feet below ground and used approximately 27,380 cubic yards of grout. The video clip below captures this process.