Bowdoin College gets $10M to build Center for the Environment

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BRUNSWICK — Bowdoin College received a $10 million gift to construct a Center for the Environment on the corner of Harpswell Road and College Street.

The gift is from David and Barbara Roux of Upperville, Virginia. David Roux is a member of the college board of trustees.

“This act of great generosity … will be transformative for Bowdoin, and we are deeply grateful for their support,” Bowdoin President Clayton Rose said in a press release Tuesday, Feb. 16.

According to college spokesman Doug Cook, tracks for the major gift were laid when Rose assumed the presidency last summer. He said David and Barbara Roux approached Rose with their interest in making a “substantial gift,” and asked only that he identify a priority project that would have a significant impact.

The result is a plan for a sustainably built academic building, tentatively named The Roux Center for the Environment.

Preliminary plans call for a building containing classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices and an auditorium, according to the press release. It will be designed by Cambridge Seven Associates, a Massachusetts-based architectural firm, and will meet “the very highest Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design standards set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council.”

Cambridge Seven also handled the renovations of Searles Hall and the Edwards Center for Art and Dance in the old Longfellow Elementary School, as well as the construction of Kanbar Hall and the Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness.

The location of the new building was formerly the Alpha Kappa Sigma fraternity house, which was demolished in 2013. The corner of Harpswell Road and College Street has been vacant ever since.

Cook said Wednesday that no formal plans have been drawn up, so the potential size of the building could not be estimated. He said abutting college-owned lots may also be used in the construction of the center.

“With this support, we are confident Bowdoin will be able to further expand its focus on the environment, educating and motivating a new generation of scientists and policy makers to meet the world’s greatest environmental challenges,” Barbara Roux said in a written statement.

Bowdoin also has a coastal studies center on Orr’s Island in Harpswell and an ornithology station on Kent Island in New Brunswick, Canada.

Additionally, according to the college, “a portion of the 250 acres of land acquired by (Bowdoin) at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station is likely to be devoted to environmental studies and other science programs,” according to the press release.

David Roux is co-founder, senior director and former chief executive officer of Silver Lake Group, a technology investment firm. He is also the former chairman and CEO of Liberate Technologies, executive vice president at Oracle Corp., and senior vice president at Lotus Development. He serves on the boards of the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor and the National Audubon Society.

Barbara Roux owns and operates St. Bride’s Farm in Upperville, Virginia, which focuses on breeding and training American show jumpers.

Pending approval from the college’s trustees and the Brunswick Planning Board, construction of the center is set to begin in May 2017. The building is expected to open in the fall of 2018.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

David and Barbara Roux, of Virginia, have made a $10 million gift to Bowdoin College in Brunswick to build a new Center for the Environment.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.