The Coastal Studies Institute is a research and teaching campus within the University of North Carolina system, located in Manteo along the Croatan Sound of Roanoke Island. CSI was conceived to fill the research gap in this part of the state, address the area’s pressing issues related to development and pressures on its natural resources, and increase inter-institutional collaboration within the university system. This facility is the product of a partnership between the UNC Office of the President, East Carolina University, Dare County and its citizens, and other universities of the UNC system.

CSI was established in 2003 as a program allowing collaboration, resource sharing, and research program initiation and enhancement. The mission of the Institute is to undertake research, offer educational and community outreach programs, and enhance communication about the history, culture, and environment of the maritime counties of North Carolina. The Institute focuses on four main areas: Estuarine Ecology and Human Health, Estuarine and Coastal Processes, Coastal Sustainability, and Maritime History.

The environmentally sustainable campus includes a research building with classrooms, research labs and offices, and a separate marine service facility. The new CSI campus gives scientists a base in eastern North Carolina for conducting research, and it provides a new regional resource facility for coastal education.

The facility has received LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Sustainability was a key priority for this project and the design of the facility is based on the interwoven relationship between architecture and landscape. The building is elevated, allowing the natural landscape to continue beneath the building while providing panoramic views of the wetlands and the Croatan Sound. A cost-effective geothermal HVAC system utilizes untreated Dare County well water as the geothermal energy source with minimal impact on the coastal environment.

AIA South Atlantic Region Merit Award, 2019
AIA NC COTE Award for Sustainability, 2016
AIA Virginia Merit Award, 2015
Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award for Best New Global Design, 2014
AIA Triangle Honor Award, 2014
AIA North Carolina Honor Award, 2014
USGBC North Carolina Sustainability Award, 2013