5-acre waterfront research and education campus made possible by major grants from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, ConocoPhillips Alaska, the Rasmuson Foundation, and others from Alaska and beyond.
May 25th 2021
After years of planning, including a multiyear fundraising campaign, construction has begun on the Prince William Sound Science Center’s forthcoming 5-acre waterfront campus. Founded just after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, the nonprofit Science Center has focused heavily on climate, oceanography, fisheries, birds and oil spill research in the region, contributing more than $120 million to the state’s economy in the process.
The centerpiece of the new campus is a 20,000-square-foot main building featuring research laboratories, an education classroom, conference room, offices, and warehousing for the Science Center’s research vessels and other equipment. The new campus is located on Prince William Sound’s Orca Inlet, adjacent to the Copper River Delta and the northern Gulf of Alaska. The region serves as one of the world’s most remote and wonderful living laboratories, home to the world’s richest waters. The site is next to a salmon bearing stream and tidally influenced lagoons, which provide teaching opportunities for the Science Center’s award-winning education programs. The Copper River Watershed Project, another local nonprofit with which the Science Center collaborates, recently received title to over 120 acres of adjacent property whose future uses are restricted to conservation and recreation. Together, the area creates a research, education, recreation, and conservation district that will provide benefits for decades.
The City of Cordova has been a remarkable partner and worked to identify and sell the Science Center the 5-acre waterfront parcel of land on which to develop the new campus. Extraordinary community and regional support, especially during a pandemic, helped the Science Center meet its initial fundraising goal. This new campus will improve the region’s economy while increasing the breadth and depth of the Science Center’s globally-important research, education, and community benefit programs.
The forthcoming campus is bringing construction-related jobs and positive economic news to a region hit hard by COVID-19. To date, the Science Center has generated $19.1 million in fundraising commitments. The unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic, along with rising materials, labor, and shipping costs, required the Science Center to defer certain elements of the project. The organization is actively seeking additional funding to enable completion of the original vision, including a dormitory, running seawater system, and seawater heat pump. Today, the Science Center supports 17-20 year-round employees and many more seasonal and contract staff, spread across nearly 15,000 sq. ft. of rented facilities distributed disparately around Cordova. This campus consolidation and expansion project will accommodate more than 30 employees on a unified campus, greatly increasing the Science Center’s contribution to the regional and state economies while making the organization’s work more efficient and impactful.
The anchor funder for the new campus is the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (EVOSTC), which provided $17.5 million in support. Additional major funders of the new campus include the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust ($650,000), ConocoPhillips Alaska ($250,000), and the Rasmuson Foundation ($150,000), as well as The Eyak Corporation, CoBank, John Garner, Meera Kohler, the Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association, the Meacham Foundation, the Cordova Community Foundation, and many other individuals and corporations.
It’s anticipated that the current phase of the Science Center’s new campus will be substantially complete in June 2022, with Dawson Construction and NorthForm Architecture handling the design-build effort following conceptual renderings contributed by RIM Architects and Phase 1 plans led by MCG Explore Design. The Science Center seeks to raise an additional $500,000 for Phase 1 of the project, and roughly $6 million for Phase 2.
Katrina Hoffman, President & CEO, email@example.com, 907.424.5800