COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC, DAVIS CENTER FOR HUMAN ECOLOGY | Bar Harbor, ME | 22,500 GSF
2021 | Susan T Rodriguez | Architecture • Design with OPAL
Sited between sweeping views of Frenchman’s Bay and Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, the new Center for Human Ecology weaves together the interdisciplinary study of Human Ecology with environmental sustainability. Inspired by the unique character and culture of the oceanfront campus, the design of the new building reinforces an immersive learning experience on the Maine coast.
The Davis Center for Human Ecology transforms the north end of campus and forms a new academic core of the College. The Center frames an outdoor landscape and gathering space, while maintaining views through and from the building to the Atlantic Ocean—the College’s backdrop and namesake. Embracing the interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum, the design integrates studios for painting, printmaking, drawing and digital media, labs for botany, chemistry, geology, zoology and physics as well as a greenhouse, herbarium and specimen storage and classrooms for the humanities. Unifying the program, shared flexible spaces and study alcoves extend learning beyond the classroom, fostering collaboration and community. Constructed to the stringent German Passive House standards for energy efficiency and indoor air quality, the building consumes 80 percent less energy than a comparable code-compliant building. Renewable Energy is generated from a solar array that extends across the entire roof of the building. Passive solar gain from south-facing glass mitigates heating demand during Maine’s long, cold winters, while visually connecting interior spaces with the outdoors. The building’s use of locally sourced materials – including a nearly all-wood structure and exterior envelope – reduces its lifecycle carbon footprint and effectively neutralizes the environmental impact of its construction. The building performs at the highest level, enhancing the long-term sustainability of the College’s campus with inspiring new spaces and memorable experiences that will stand the test of time.
Awards | AIA Maine, Honor Award for Excellence in Architecture, 2022
AIA New England, Design Citation Award, 2022
The Chicago Athenaeum, American Architecture Award Honorable Mention, 2022
Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize Nomination, 2022
Photo Credits | Trent Bell Photography, Jen Holt Photography, Susan Rodriguez, Jameson Lowrey, OPAL, Darron Collins, John Gordon, E.L. Shea
COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC
A New Center for Human Ecology on an Oceanfront Campus