Hatfield Marine Science Center’s design is ‘life saving’

Oregon

The center can accommodate 1,000 people during an evacuation

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Hatfield Marine Science Center was built not only to be a research institution for Oregon State University’s magnet program on the coast, but a life saving tool for people who live and work in its immediate vicinity.

“Everyone in the community is going to be impacted by this natural disaster when it happens, so wherever you are you need to be prepared,” said Mark Farley, the center’s strategic initiatives manager.

The building is made of steel and cement to hold it together, along with breakaway walls and a crumple zone on one side of the building in case large debris hits it.

A ramp serves as the direct access point to the roof. The center also has an elevator for people who are injured or in a wheelchair that works even after an earthquake happens.

This is one of the world’s first ADA accessible vertical evacuation buildings. Vertical evacuation sites exist, but OSU’s ability to wrap it, plus the seismically stable building and ADA accessibility is what makes it so unique.

After the earthquake happens, a tsunami is set to follow.

“A 9.5 earthquake is a significant event,” Farley said. “It will knock you to the ground. You will not be able to stand or move in a 9.5.”

Before this building was created, the closest tsunami evacuation center was 15 to 18 minutes away by foot.

This area of Newport is central to multiple government agencies such as NOAA and the EPA, as well as the students at OSU who live there and an RV park steps away.

“After the shaking, this site – now every site on the coast – is mapped specifically for when a wave would arrive at your location,” Farley said.

The center can accommodate 1,000 people for approximately 48 hours.

Multiple architects and engineers have toured the building and followed the center’s lead to implement some of these features.

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