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Sense of Place

Dormitory Complex at Massachusetts Maritime Academy

University Business, Jul 2007

LOCATED ON THE CAPE COD CANAL, THE MASSACHUSETTS MARI-time Academy campus has spruced up its cadet dorms while making room for more students by adding floors to its existing complex.

- FUNCTION: Six interconnected buildings serve as the only on-campus housing for Mass Maritime cadets.

- PROBLEMS: As enrollment grew at Mass Maritime-a public, co-ed maritime college in which the regimented lifestyle of cadets has traditionally required students to live on campus-it became clear that more beds were desperately needed. In fact, this school year nearly 1,000 students had to occupy a circa 1968 dorm complex designed to accommodate 880, reports Allen Hansen, vice president of Student Services. Even with students residing in every recreation room and study lounge, administrators still had to break tradition and allow a handful of students to commute. And with just one location on the 55-acre campus available for expansion-which officials hope to use for a new library complex-it seemed that a vertical expansion of the existing complex was the best bet.

- SOLUTIONS: Adding two stories to parts and upgrading the exterior and interior of the entire complex would result in at least 150 new beds as well as ensure equal housing accommodations for all cadets. Yet early indications showed that the project would require vacating the existing complex for a year, says Steve Allen, a principal at architectural firm Prellwitz Chilinski Associates. With only one cadet residence, Hansen explains, "We didn't have any choice but to reside while building."

PCA hired an engineering firm to evaluate the situation; since concrete gets stronger over time, there might be an alternative solution. Testing concluded that the building had about 50 percent more structural capacity than when it was built. So PCA and project builder Erland Construction were able to do most of the necessary structural upgrades-disruptive, noisy ones-during summer break. Once the school year began, the team worked out times when the noisiest work could be done, for the least disruption to students, and by mid-October the building was enclosed, Allen reports. The entire complex has new baths and lounges, expanded laundry rooms, improved accessibility, new ceilings, and new sprinkler and fire alarm systems. As for the exterior, a new roofline and the new floors provide a more polished look, Allen says. It's a green project, too; the building was designed for LEED Silver certification and may qualify for Gold.

- COSTS: $3.5 million for upgrades, $13 million for two-story addition

- COMPLETED: Spring 2007

- PROJECT TEAM: Prellwitz Chilinski Associates, Cambridge, Mass., architects; Erland Construction, Burlington, Mass., builder -M.E.

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