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GSA, NOAA AND OPUS BREAK GROUND FOR NOAA CENTER FOR WEATHER AND CLIMATE PREDICTION
New Facility to be Centerpiece of the University of Maryland's M-Square Research and Technology Park

NOAA image of artist’s rendering of NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction.March 13, 2006 The U.S. General Services Administration, in partnership with NOAA and Opus East, L.L.C., broke ground today for the NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, the crown jewel in a new 50-acre section of the University of Maryland's M-Square Research and Technology Park. Opus East, L.L.C., of Rockville, Md., working with Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, Inc. (HOK) as the lead design and interior architect, will design, construct and own the building and lease it to the GSA. Opus arranged a long-term ground lease with the University of Maryland for the development. The 268,762 square-foot office and research complex will become the new home for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service, Air Resources Laboratory and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, an office of the National Weather Service. Approximately 800 people will work in the facility. (Click NOAA image for larger view of artist’s rendering of NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

Ann Everett, acting administrator for GSA's National Capital Region said, "By locating this facility adjacent to the University of Maryland, GSA enhances NOAA's ability to develop closer collaboration between its scientists and forecasters, and the faculty and students at the University of Maryland. This benefits NOAA, the University and the American people."

NOAA image of NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher joining assembled dignitaries at the ground breaking of the NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction.Virtually all the meteorological data collected globally will arrive at NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction. Environmental scientists will analyze this information and generate a wide variety of atmospheric and oceanic forecasts and guidance products using sophisticated numerical weather and climate prediction models. "Our vision is clear: To create a new state-of-the-art facility for NOAA employees that enhances our ability to understand and meet global atmospheric challenges of today. Our goal is to create synergy with the research and academic community that will accelerate new science and technology into operations, improve forecast performance and result in better service to the American public," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. (Click NOAA image for larger view of NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher joining assembled dignitaries at the ground breaking of the NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

"With the groundbreaking for this new $50 million facility here in College Park, we are continuing to ensure that our nation's top scientists, researchers and other professionals have the state-of-the art facilities and tools to match their talents so that they can continue to perform NOAA's vital mission," said Senator Paul S. Sarbanes. "We take great pride in having NOAA located here in Maryland and in the men and women who will work here continuing to contribute to the well-being and the protection of our natural resources."

"I'm so proud of NOAA and the Weather Service—they work every day to save lives and livelihoods," said Senator Barbara A. Mikulski. "I know that NOAA's employees—the researchers, scientists, weather forecasters and satellite experts—are world class, cream of the crop. They deserve a world class work environment."

"This is a significant milestone towards completion of the new NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, which will be a state-of-the-art advanced weather operations and research facility," said Congressman Steny H. Hoyer. "This critical project will not only vastly improve our nation's weather systems and be much better suited to meet NOAA's needs, but it will also ensure that our region remains an attractive destination and home for the best and brightest minds."

"Opus is honored to work with GSA and NOAA to design and build this world-class facility that will anchor Maryland's research and technology core," said James J. Lee, president and CEO of Opus East, L.L.C. "The new facility will benefit our nation by enhancing the ability of NOAA employees to monitor critical oceanic and environmental activities."

This structure has been designed to provide a state-of-the-art facility that reflects NOAA's mission "to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our nation's economic, social and environmental needs." It includes features that demonstrate environmental sensitivities, such as its "green roof" and rainwater waterfall, and both the site and building design will achieve the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver Certification. An employee-friendly building that brings the natural settings into everyone's office will be equally inviting to visitors. The facility will be completed in late fall 2007, with full occupancy in February 2008.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.

Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Climate Prediction Center

NOAA Satellite and Information Service

NOAA Air Resources Laboratory

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction

Media Contact:
Carmeyia Gillis, NOAA Climate Prediction Center, (301) 763-8000 ext. 7163
(Photo courtesy of Jeff Donald, NOAA Public Affairs.)