Pru & Louis Ryan Resilience Lab

Something Beautiful Is Happening Here

Now Open!

Nearly 18 months after breaking ground, our doors are finally open for preview programming and sneak peek public tours. Look for our “official” Grand Opening in spring 2024, after the boardwalk, research dock, solar panels, 3-story art wall and more are completed. Our thanks to the many supporters, donors and members who’ve made this exciting milestone possible. Together we’re doing beautiful things!

Preview Programming & Sneak Peek Tours

Come check out our exciting global model for urban coastal resilience.

Where to Find Us:
4610 Colley Ave, Norfolk, VA 23508

Questions?
Email info@elizabethriver.org or call 757-399-7487

some Sneak Peek Tours Will Be Led by Virginia’s Former First Lady, Pam Northam!

Take the Tour!

We'd love to see you at the lab

Join us for a tour of this remarkable new facility and an eye-opening exploration of how sea level rise will affect us all. Check out cutting edge green building practices and systems – floating docks, green roofs, solar arrays, rainwater capture, and much more. See sustainability best practices in action and learn about the “planned retreat” that will allow the river to retake the site as sea levels continue to rise.

A Living Lab for a Warming World

The new Ryan Resilience Lab explores, displays and models key concepts and approaches that will lead the way to a more sustainable future:
  • Adaptation to a Changing Climate

    Building and site designs incorporate elevated structures, floating docks, and on-site energy production through solar arrays and battery backups with a goal of net zero energy use.

  • Features to Absorb Flooding

    Living shorelines, rain gardens, pervious paving and green roofs to reduce stormwater runoff, rain barrels and cisterns to collect rainwater, and “gray-water” re-use in the building are all on display.

  • Energy and Environmental Resilience

    Designed for energy efficiency and reduced carbon footprint, from recycled material usage to solar panels to high-efficiency lighting, including “sunlight harvesting” strategies.

  • Cultural Resilience

    Signage, displays and ERP staff educate visitors on resilience features and strategies while art exhibits inspire and public parks and green spaces offer new ways to experience the Elizabeth River.

  • Planned Retreat

    With sea level rise projected to overtake the facility in 30-50 years, it’s built to be progressively preserved before ultimately succumbing to the river – an groundbreaking model for homeowners and developers.

Upcoming Programming & Events

The Ryan Resilience Series – our eclectic assortment of on-site events, exhibits and programs – is designed to bring the community together to explore climate and environmental issues from many perspectives. Click below to see what’s coming up and get details on how to attend.

November 22, 2023 - May 31, 2024

"All water has a perfect memory" Art Exhibit

The exhibition is available for viewing within the Ryan Resilience Lab during our regular business hours, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, until the end of May 2024.

  • March 1 @ 6:30 am - 7:30 am

    GUD Morning, River!

    Greet each first Friday of the month from the River Room at the Ryan Lab, with a sweeping view of the sunrise over Knitting Mill Creek. This is an intentionally inclusive, all-levels-welcome yoga class – come as you are! Instruction generously donated by Ashley Gudknecht of GUD Yoga.

  • March 9 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am

    Volunteer Litter Cleanup

    Come help make the Elizabeth River a cleaner and healthier place for all by participating in a litter cleanup! We’ll provide the garbage bags, trash grabbers and gloves (if you

  • March 9 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

    Ryan Resilience Lab Native Landscaping Volunteer Training

    Join us to “Do Something Beautiful” by assisting in maintaining the native landscape, including the shoreline buffer, living shoreline, green roof, and rain gardens at the Elizabeth River Project’s new

  • March 23 @ 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

    Otter Spotters: A Crash Course in Urban River Otters

    Learn about the natural history of river otters, how to find them, and their importance as an indicator species of healthy rivers from our visiting otter ecologist expert.

  • March 23 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

    Otter Spotters: Urban Otter Nature Walk

    Join us along the scenic Elizabeth River Trail as we embark on a 1.25-mile round trip walk from Chelsea to the picturesque Plum Point Park and back. What Awaits You:

  • April 5 @ 6:30 am - 7:30 am

    GUD Morning, River!

    Greet each first Friday of the month from the River Room at the Ryan Lab, with a sweeping view of the sunrise over Knitting Mill Creek. This is an intentionally inclusive, all-levels-welcome yoga class – come as you are! Instruction generously donated by Ashley Gudknecht of GUD Yoga.

  • April 13 @ 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

    Sneak Peek Ryan Resilience Lab Open House

    Join the Elizabeth River Project for a special Saturday sneak-peek Open House of our new Ryan Resilience Lab as we complete the finishing touches on this globally significant resilience model.

  • May 3 @ 6:30 am - 7:30 am

    GUD Morning, River!

    Greet each first Friday of the month from the River Room at the Ryan Lab, with a sweeping view of the sunrise over Knitting Mill Creek. This is an intentionally inclusive, all-levels-welcome yoga class – come as you are! Instruction generously donated by Ashley Gudknecht of GUD Yoga.

  • June 7 @ 6:30 am - 7:30 am

    GUD Morning, River!

    Greet each first Friday of the month from the River Room at the Ryan Lab, with a sweeping view of the sunrise over Knitting Mill Creek. This is an intentionally inclusive, all-levels-welcome yoga class – come as you are! Instruction generously donated by Ashley Gudknecht of GUD Yoga.

LINK UP Series Launch

This special new program fosters intergenerational mentorship and ladders to success for BIPOC youth in the environmental sciences. Join us to participate in activities guided by experts, like learning how to take water quality samples, measure pollutants, interpret data, and more!

Programming made possible by

Contact Us or Drop By
Play Video

Proud to Anchor the EcoDistrict

We’re excited about the synergy that’s quickly building between the Ryan Resilience Lab, local businesses on Colley Ave., and area residents and communities. The entire area will increasingly serve as a model for a more resilient and sustainable future.

Louis Ryan’s Love of the Water Helped Us Do Something Beautiful

Play Video

“Developing on-land solutions to rising tides and rising sea level is not just a case of trying to make it more inhabitable for human beings. It’s also a case of making the land more friendly to the river.”

LOUIS RYAN

OFFICER, BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Elizabeth River Project

In the News

Ready to talk climate? Ryan Resilience Lab offers tours of facility’s sustainable innovations

The Pru & Louis Ryan Resilience Lab, which now cuts a striking figure along Colley Avenue, is offering tours to the public to show off the ways the building itself is an example of preserving waterways and structures as sea levels continue to rise.

Hampton Roads groups sign agreement in preparation of rising sea levels

Tuesday, folks with the Elizabeth River Project, Wetlands Watch and Coastal Virginia Conservancy marked a milestone for conservationists. The groups met at the Ryan Resilience Lab to sign a rolling easement, a legal agreement, they said is the first of its kind in the nation.

The sound of sea level rise: Norfolk artist’s symphony imagines our shifting shoreline

As waters rise, the shoreline will slowly retreat inward. 

On Thursday night, a Norfolk composer debuted a symphony designed to imagine the sounds of that progression. 

Living lab for a warming world: News 3 tours Ryan Resilience Lab in Norfolk as it nears completion

The Ryan Resilience Lab is a new facility in Norfolk that explores how rising sea levels will affect us all.

Resilience lab in Norfolk marks milestone in construction process

The Elizabeth River Project placed the final beam on the Ryan Resilience Lab, which will help homeowners and developers learn how to adapt to climate change.

Elizabeth River Project’s new lab reaches construction milestone

Elizabeth River Project marked the latest progress in the building of its Ryan Resilience Laboratory Friday with a “topping out” ceremony. The complex will serve as a research, education and outreach center dedicated to the environment.

The Washington Post logo

Meet the multimillion-dollar building deliberately built to drown

As coastal cities wrestle with increasing threats from rising waters, a nonprofit’s costly new headquarters offers an answer that is both defiant and prescient…

Changing Coastlines and the Rolling Conservation Easement

Questions loom about how to handle homes, businesses, and entire cities that are at risk of flooding, and there rarely seems to be an answer that makes everyone happy.

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