The Downeast Institute (DEI) is located on Great Wass Island in Beals, Maine. The marine research and education organization serves eastern Maine through applied research, the production of clam spat for seeding mud flats, and by providing educational opportunities for local and visiting students. It functions as a field station and research facility for the University of Maine Machias. We began to work with DEI on a facilities master plan in 2009. The plan articulated a vision to become an education center, a marine research laboratory, as well as a producer of clam spat for commercial seeding. The education center was built in 2010. Our current work will create laboratories and office space, and structural renovations to the existing building: a 6,400-square-foot former lobster pound, now used for shellfish production.
During the master plan phase, we spent considerable time in programming, including visiting and analyzing similar facilities, cataloging specific tasks to be performed, and discovering how various users need to interact with their building, and with each other. Best practices for flowing seawater design were gleaned from visits to nearby labs as well as labs on the west coast.
The Education Center incorporates many of these best practices, including in choice of materials and in creating flexibility. The design and finishes are meant to provide nearly bulletproof conditions to handle the potentially disastrous combination of kids and seawater experiments. Lab services are surface-run to provide adaptability.
This project is being supported by the University of Maine System.