Whitney Lab begins construction of new research building


The Whitney Lab has begun the construction of the long-awaited Marine Research Institute Building and Sea Turtle Research Center and Hospital. Once complete, the new facilities will bring high-technology and science education outreach to the shores of St. Johns and Flagler counties.

University of Florida’s Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, situated on State Road A1A near Marineland, is a research institute specializing in the basic biology of marine organisms. The current building — once reported as “squat and durable enough to withstand a hurricane, but hardly a posterboard for aesthetics” — is showing the wear and tear of more than 50 years of scientific discovery.

“Our existing building is dilapidated with small rooms, poor lighting and insufficient airflow,” said Director Mark Martindale back in 2021. “We’re looking forward to filling [the new building] up with more of the best and brightest scientists in the country.”

The construction site was previously occupied by Whitney Hall (used as event space, dormitory and offices over the years) and two modular homes. With a project budget of $41.2 million and more than 38,000 square feet in size, the new building and Sea Turtle Research Center and Hospital overlooking the Matanzas estuary will more than double current research space.

Twelve state-of-the-art collaborative faculty laboratories will include specialized research areas, such as space for advanced microscopy training and a natural products chemistry suite for drug discovery from our environment.

Plans also include an interactive Marine Research and Conservation Discovery Lobby designed so visitors can learn about the Whitney Laboratory’s research programs, surrounding environment and efforts in sea turtle conservation.

Construction is slated for completion in summer 2025. The building is planned for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certification, a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and the most widely used green building rating system.

The building design was created through a collaboration with Whitney scientists, UF Planning, Construction and Design, and the architecture firms Lord Aeck Sargent (Atlanta) and TTV Architects (Jacksonville). DPR construction firm, centered in Jacksonville, is the construction manager for the ambitious project.

“The significant philanthropic support from the community has been instrumental in partnering with the state to support and push science and education forward through Whitney's new building,” said Jessica Long, senior director of advancement for the Whitney Lab. “We are excited to be at the precipice of a new chapter for the lab's next 50 years.”

There are still interior naming opportunities available. For more information, contact Jessica Long at jessicalong@whitney.ufl.edu, Heather Krumholtz at heather@whitney.ufl.edu or Brent Foster at brent.foster@whitney.ufl.edu.