An unrealistic budget, a client with a complex bureaucracy, and technically challenging systems requirements can make a project challenging. Our project for the Department of Marine Resources had all these. In addition, this marine laboratory renovation was both small and in a remote location. We had to actively cajole qualified contractors to submit bids. By staying focused on the goal and developing an excellent relationship with the client contact, this project was a success.
The DMR Water Quality Lab in Lamoine is located in Lamoine State Park. The building was simply too small to hold the staff population. DMR asked us to design an addition to accommodate four scientists. We realized their budget was not even half the amount needed. We also thought we could reconfigure the interior of the building to provide the needed space. A new mechanical system using a propane-fired boiler and heat pump would take much less space than the existing oil-fired boiler room. They would also save thousands of dollars in annual fuel bills. However, the State had not anticipated paying for conceptual design services; their green light was for us to design the addition. A concept design to introduce an alternative could be viewed as money potentially wasted on an idea that might never get built.
We ended up meeting with the client, showing a great concept, and executing the mechanical renovation. We increased the usable area and energy efficiency of the DMR Water Quality Lab. We created architectural space through attention to mechanical system efficiency. Rather than having a larger building with outdated and costly systems, DMR has the space they require in a building that is much less costly to operate. Our new system not only saves energy, but provides much better ventilation quality for their water quality testing laboratories.