Maine Health reveals design details for former Orion Center in Scarborough

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SCARBOROUGH — Architects and engineers for the new MaineHealth facility will continue to tweak the redesign of the former Orion Center on Route 1.

The project was before the Scarborough Planning Board Monday night for site plan review.  But the presentation was “treated as a discussion,” Town Planner Dan Bacon said, because the project still needs approvals from both the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation.

Landscaper Mark Johnson, of SMRT Architecture, told board members there will be three phases of upgrades and changes to the 90,000-square-foot, three-building facility on 16 acres.

“We’re here tonight requesting approval of the first phase,” Johnson said.

Phase one would include renovation of half of the largest building’s interior to accommodate NorDx clinical laboratories, as well as improvements to the facade of the entire building. Additional plans would upgrade the existing parking lot, add an additional lot to the northeast quadrant and finish off the other two buildings on the site.

Because the lab would be a 24-hour operation, the plan would require some lighting that would remain on through the night. Lights in other areas of the parking lot could be dimmed or turned off after hours. 

Architects said their plans for siding the exterior include a mixture of materials in shades of beige and copper-colored metal panels, cultured stone and masonry brick. In one design, a portico connected the two north-side buildings, a feature board members said they would like to see in the finished product.

The combined length of those two buildings is nearly 600 feet, Paul Lewandowski, an architect with SMRT, told the board. He said the trellised portico is designed to dress up the facade and break up the long flat stretch of uniform wall space.

Lewandowski said they planned to bring the buildings up to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, though they may not go through the certification process.

Calling it a “huge improvement over what is there now,” Susan Auglis, a former board chairwoman who has returned to the board as an alternate, approved of both the trellis and the siding.

“One of the things I love about what Maine Medical has done in Scarborough is there’s no repetition,” she said. “I think it’s kind of exciting.”

But Auglis raised significant concerns about the landscaping and the parking arrangement, saying she would like to see more landscaping in the existing lot to bring it up to what’s proposed for the new parking area.

The board also requested the extra curb cuts be closed off and the sidewalks leveled.

MaineHealth bought the property last November for $7.4 million from Hannaford Bros. Co.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or