Coastal Studies Institute Brings a True Wow Factor
By Kip Tabb –
Only rarely does reality exceed expectation, but in the case of the newly opened Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) on Roanoke Island, it has happened.
The road from concept to completed project was long and complex, but the finished product, shown off in an open house on Saturday, is an excellent example of what happens when everyone is on the same page at the same time. A beautiful 90,000 square foot building with state-of-the-art lab facilities, classrooms, docking and maintenance for research craft and a truly world-class staff, it can finally be said the CSI has finally found a home.
The CSI has been located on the Outer Banks since 2003, but with no central campus, an office in Manteo and a lab in Nags Head, there were limits to what could be accomplished. Nonetheless, the institute has become an important part of Outer Banks life—staff has worked with local government on zoning issues and on the research side has been involved is some truly cutting edge work.
The new building, actually buildings, brings everything together in one location, creating a true campus.
Coupled with the main building is a marine services building that looks almost like a hugely oversized garage. Connecting with the sound through canals and a dock, the building contains a repair facility, dive shop and fabrication center so research tools can be built and maintained on site.
As one researcher noted the time savings involved with this is extraordinary. In the past if a research vessel needed to be serviced, it had to be taken to the ECU facility at Greenville.
Walking through the corridors of the main building, it’s difficult to decide which is more exciting: the facilities or the potential they represents. A three story building, the first floor is designed for meeting space; the second and third floors house classrooms, labs and research facilities.
What is particularly exciting is the research that is already underway and what it represents for the future of both the CSI and the Outer Banks. There are studies of estuarine systems that have never been done before, the undersea mapping project is a partnership between CSI, North Carolina colleges and government. One of the most dynamic studies now underway and one that holds, perhaps, the most possibility, is the wave energy research the staff has created—research that may allow us to draw energy from waves in much the same way that wind energy is harvested.
Just as exciting is the concept of the Outer Banks as a center for coastal studies and research. The Duck Pier—officially known as the Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility—is world-renowned for the work that has been done there on near shore wave activities.
A number of staff at the CSI open house mentioned Jennette’s Pier as an ideal platform for oceanographic studies—which was an idea that was presented when the pier first opened.
And now this . . . a world-class facility that brings the best and the brightest to the Outer Banks.
The CSI is a part of the UNC system.