A ramp on the outside of the GVMSB leads from the ground level to the roof of the building (47 feet high). It is designed to serve as an emergency assembly site for more than 900 people after a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

An Engineering Model for Coastal Communities


The Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building (GVMSB) 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.

This heavily engineered building offers a vertical evaluation structure with supplies on the rooftop to support over 920 people for up to two days following a Cascadia-level event. This building is designed to withstand a 9+ earthquake and to survive an XXL tsunami event. The building is also designed to be repairable after a large (L) tsunami event. The addition of the GVMSB improves the safety of the people who work and play at Hatfield and in the surrounding South Beach community.

The Hatfield campus also offers two ground-level evacuation routes people can walk to avoid a tsunami inundation event. These routes go to Safe Haven Hill west of Highway 101 and the Oregon Coast Community College to the south. Learn about these evacuation options by participating in the HMSC Tsunami Options Quest(pdf), a free-choice learning activity that uses clues to teach people about a place or event.


Three ways to Access

The vertical evacuation solution at GVMSB enables people with limited mobility to evacuate the area. An elevator is 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. Schematics of the three options are pictured below.

Building Facts
  • Located at the Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building on the Hatfield Marine Science Center campus in Newport, Oregon, adjacent to Yaquina Bay.
  • $61.7 million building costs
  • 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 and the building was completed in 2020.
  • Yost Grube Hall, architects; Andersen Construction, general contractor.
Unique Foundations

Deep-soil mixing is a technique used 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 GVMSB, the augers went nearly 100 feet below ground and used approximately 27,380 cubic yards of grout. The video clip below captures this process.