Located on the Damariscotta River Estuary in East Boothbay, Maine, the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is working hard to understand the relationship between our oceans and the rest of the planet. The LEED Platinum laboratory was designed by Perkins+Will and was recently opened to provide the research group a new facility in which to conduct its fight against climate change. Daylighting, environmentally-friendly materials and energy-efficient systems were all part of the multi-pronged strategy to create a sustainable and inspiring laboratory in which to work.
The Bigelow Laboratory was formerly housed in buildings it leased from the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The oceanic research team then moved into its new 64-acre campus at the end of 2012. Designed by the Boston office of Perkins+Will, the lab is the first project in Maine to achieve LEED Platinum status and is one of only seven certified projects in New England. Ongoing research at the labs is working towards developing a better understanding of how ocean microorganisms are impacted by climate change and how the ocean and atmosphere interact in ways that influence global warming. The labs also have a close relationship with nearby Colby College and source students to help with their work.
The campus facilities are set back into the hillside and the forest to help it blend in with the surrounding environment. Inspiration for the facility came from the surrounding local docks and piers, but also has a distinctly modern aesthetic. Daylighting plays a strong role in all the rooms and laboratories and the envelope features a high-performance and durable skin and rain screen that will patina over time to further blend in. Highly efficient mechanical systems work to reduce energy use and environmentally-friendly materials were selected for construction.
The goal of the design was to create a facility that inspired its employees and encouraged them to better research. “Bigelow researchers are unraveling the complex relationships between our oceans and the role they play in the overall health of our planet. All of us on the design team committed ourselves to creating uniquely-effective buildings and spaces that would inspire the scientists, enhance collaborations and help accelerate all aspects of the discovery process,” said Gary Shaw, Project Principal with Perkins+Will.
Images ©Christopher Barnes