Bowdoin College in Brunswick to begin building environmental studies center

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BRUNSWICK — Bowdoin College will begin construction next month on its first new academic building in more than a decade.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled May 12 for the Roux Center for the Environment.

The Planning Board unanimously approved final plans for the green-certified environmental studies center on March 28.

The 29,167-square-foot, three-story building will be at 38 Harpswell Road, at the corner of College Street. The building is slated for completion by the fall semester of 2018.

The board praised the design – featuring a multi-story glass “lantern” facing College Street – which architect Timothy Mansfield called an opportunity for Bowdoin to dramatically “frame the campus.”

“It will revitalize a somewhat sleepy corner of campus,” said Matt Orlando, Bowdoin’s chief finance officer. “(The building) will give you that sense of arrival that you get on the other end (of campus).”

“Will it be a lantern all night?” board member Jane Arbuckle wondered.

Mansfield replied no, at night, shades set to an automatic timer would cover vast panels of glass on the building’s north and south sides.

Plans call for little outdoor lighting. Mansfield alluded to landscaping to create a barrier along the lot’s perimeters and play off the building’s environmental theme. The vegetation would also help protect the privacy of neighbors on Harpswell Place.

Otherwise, the board had few questions about the final plans, which have not varied dramatically from a sketch plan approved last November.

Mansfield noted, however, that the building footprint has moved slightly west, and is now “nestled really as far into the site as we can get it.”

“I just think this is an extraordinary addition to the community and, of course, to the college,” board member Sande Updegraph said, summarizing the consensus among her colleagues.

Bids for the project will be opened in May, according to college spokesman Doug Cook; until then, the college has not finalized a total cost.

The building was made possible through a $10 million naming gift from David and Barbara Roux of Virginia, who announced the donation in February 2016. David Roux is a trustee of the college.

Cook said other fundraising is continuing.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

Edited 4/20 to correct square footage of the building.

Bowdoin College will break ground on the Roux Center for the Environment, at the corner of College Street and Harpswell Road, on May 12. The environmental studies center will the college’s first new academic building in more than a decade.

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Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net.