Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

  • Campus Master Plan and Matthias Lab Design
  • Edgewater, MD
  • 2009 - 2011


As a 2500 acre parcel on the Maryland shore, SERC houses the estuarine research facilities as part of the larger living laboratory.  SERC supports Smithsonian researchers as well as researchers from around the world in a residential setting.  The master plan sought to create clarity on how the site should be used, how visitors could experience it as an historic site of great natural beauty, while maintaining its focus as a research facility.   The master plan established priorities, projects and budgets for a series of projects to improve the capacity of SERC.



As SERC is focused on the impact of change on estuarine environments, the process elected to trace the impact from Native Americans to current communities on the land and water.  Historic information reinforced the ideas of development of 2 cores:  visitor and research, locating new development in areas already impacted.  High levels of sustainability informed the planning which engaged scientists and Smithsonian officials in a 2 year process.


Specific programmatic needs resulted in obtaining funding and design/construction of a ‘green residential village’, new 40,000 square foot Matthias Research Labs and central geothermal infrastructure to minimize environmental footprint.  Future projects include a visitor center and additional support structures to support additional environmental monitoring and research activities.