Mote SEA Milestones

  • January 2017

    Guiding Growth in Marine Science and Education

    Guided by its 2020 Vision & Strategic Plan, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium commissions feasibility studies to guide the institution’s growth in science and education and increase its benefit to communities and the economy. Feasibility studies suggest significant benefits of a rebirth of Mote Aquarium at a new site in Sarasota County, which will free space for much-needed growth of Mote’s research enterprise at its primary campus on City Island, Sarasota.

    Mote leaders examine multiple potential Aquarium sites and form a New Aquarium Oversight Committee with Board of Trustees members to help Mote’s President & CEO with the planning process.

    Mote leaders redouble efforts to meet with southwest Florida community leaders, commission financial feasibility analyses by Schultz & Williams and hold numerous planning sessions with CambridgeSeven, the architect selected to conceptualize the new facility.

  • Feb 8, 2018

    Mote Science Education Aquarium Announcement

    Feb. 8, 2018: Mote President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby announces that the spectacular new Mote Science Education Aquarium (Mote SEA) is being planned for Nathan Benderson Park, a nexus site for the Sarasota-Manatee region and southwest Florida. Mote SEA will share science and ocean literacy with a much wider audience while freeing space for Mote’s primary research campus on City Island, Sarasota, to evolve into an International Marine Science, Technology & Innovation Park.

    Mote unveils the $130-million fundraising campaign to create Mote SEA through philanthropic, corporate and public support: Oceans for All: Improving Access to Marine Science & Technology.

  • Summer 2018

    Continuing Meetings to Secure Land

    Mote continues productive meetings with Sarasota County with the goal of securing county-owned land in Nathan Benderson Park for Mote SEA.

    Mote offers a new opportunity for donors to become SEA Explorers, members of an exclusive group of no more than 100 visionary philanthropic leaders who together will contribute the next $25,000,000 in pace-setting contributions to Oceans for All, each pledging $250,000 for Mote SEA design and site development.

  • Oct 24, 2018

    County Commission Unanimously Approves Mote SEA

    The Sarasota County Commission unanimously approves a significant step forward in establishing a new Mote Science Education Aquarium (Mote SEA): a term sheet developed by Mote and Sarasota County staff, which provides a path to formalize a full lease and conveyance agreement.

  • Oct 27, 2018

    First SEA Explorers Announcement

    During Mote’s annual Oceanic Evening event, Mote President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby announces the first group of SEA Explorers, visionary supporters who have donated or pledged $250,000 or more toward creation of Mote SEA: Hobart and Janis Swan; Bob and Anne Essner; Elizabeth Moore; Ellen Hanson and Richard Perlman; and The Benderson Family.

  • Jan 30, 2019

    Sarasota County Commission Approval

    The Sarasota County Commission unanimously approves an agreement for Mote’s use of county-owned land in Nathan Benderson Park for the site of the planned Mote Science Education Aquarium (Mote SEA). The “omnibus” agreement includes a two-year lease, during which Mote will pursue normal, due-diligence steps and seek zoning approval for ultimate sale of the land. If this does not happen within the short-term lease, the agreement calls for a long-term lease of 90 years.

  • March 2019

    $30 Million Raised

    Mote’s campaign to create Mote SEA, Oceans for All, reaches $30 million raised or pledged toward its $130-million goal.

  • May 16, 2019

    Construction Management Team Announcement

    After an intensive selection process, Mote announces the construction management team for Mote Science Education Aquarium: local construction management company Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc., and international firm The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

  • Summer 2019

    Summer Progress

    Mote staff, along with locally based land-use consultants, civil engineers and geotechnical engineers, spend the summer working through all the normal due diligence work associated with a project of this size and complexity. These include soil testing at the site, survey work, parking and traffic flow analysis and land use rights and easements.  

  • July 2019

    Schematic Design Development and Review Phase

    As schematic design phase continues to develop, Mote Staff and Trustee Oversight Committee, along with various Mote building contractors begin interactive feedback review of designs.

  • January–February 2020

    Vital Support from Sarasota & Manatee County Commissioners

    On Jan. 15, 2020, Sarasota County Commissioners vote unanimously to commit $20 million of county tourist development funds to Mote SEA. At the same time, Mote remains on track with “due-diligence” efforts as outlined by the county and Mote’s Oceans for All campaign to support Mote SEA, working toward the goal of breaking ground by the end of 2020.

    On Feb. 25, 2020, the Manatee County Commissioners unanimously vote to commit $5 million of county tourist development funds to support Mote operations, programs and outreach activities that will promote tourism at Mote SEA and existing Mote Aquarium.

  • Spring 2020

    Design Improvements

    After carefully reviewing the schematic designs and conceptual renderings of Mote SEA, Mote focuses on further improvements to support the facility’s constructability and functionality by adding tvsdesign architecture firm to the team.

    Upgrades include:
    Improvements to the building’s distribution of space and weight for constructability and for optimizing visitor flow through the interior.
    Refinements to the architecture of the building’s “skin,” choosing a modular approach that will expedite construction, improve cost effectiveness and realize the iconic look envisioned for Mote SEA—a win-win-win outcome. Updated plans disconnect the building’s skin from its core structure, providing the option to grow the facility in the long term (within the same footprint) and meet expanding community needs for marine science education.
    Further detailing plans for pedestrian and public transportation access to Mote SEA.

    View of the entry at Mote SEA

  • Jul 16, 2020

    More than $75 Million Raised & Groundbreaking Planned

    Mote’s President & CEO, Dr. Michael P. Crosby, announces that more than $75 million has been raised for Mote SEA to date, meaning that the $130-million Oceans for All campaign has moved well beyond its halfway mark. The exciting campaign momentum continues to grow with support from visionary philanthropic leaders as well as public and corporate partners that embrace the goals of Mote SEA.

    Mote also reveals the upgraded renderings of Mote SEA and announces plans to “break ground” for site preparation by the end of 2020. Initial work will involve improvements to the grounds, a necessary step before vertical construction. A schedule for vertical construction is expected to be determined through close coordination among Mote, its contracting partners and Sarasota County. Expectations are for Mote SEA construction to be completed in 2023, dependent upon conclusion of the Oceans for All campaign.

  • Nov 13, 2020

    Mote SEA Groundbreaking!

    Our bold vision moved one shovel closer to reality as Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium officially broke ground for the new Mote Science Education Aquarium (Mote SEA) at Nathan Benderson Park. Federal, state, and local government officials, Mote Trustees and supporters, and other community partners came together to celebrate the occasion.

    During the groundbreaking ceremony, Mote President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby and Mote’s Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Sam Seider thanked everyone who made this tremendous milestone possible.

    Dr. Crosby also thanked the newest group to show their support for Mote SEA—corporate sponsors. The first cohort of these sponsors for Mote SEA includes: Benderson Development, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, Ajax Paving, Caldwell Trust Company, CBIZ Insurance Services, Tervis, and Florida Power & Light.

    Groundbreaking for Mote SEA image resized