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Sense of Place

The Waterfront at St. Mary?s College of Maryland

Enhancing a campus environmental gem
University Business, Apr 2009

AN OUTDOOR "LIVING ROOM" accessible from the main campus by foot or bike, the waterfront at St. Mary’s has been given a structural makeover.

? FUNCTION: The quarter mile or so of space on the shore of the St. Mary’s River is better equipped than ever as a spot for sports, recreation, and learning.

? PROBLEM: St. Mary’s waterfront area had just a 1960s-era boathouse with a tiny classroom, a toilet in a closet also serving as a workshop, and space to store about half of the gear needed for the college’s national championship sailing team. Some small wooden sheds had been built over the years to store gear for the windsurfing, wakeboarding, and kayaking clubs. And regatta spectators had only a hillside on which to sit. With sailing starting in February, “it’s not always a nice sunny afternoon,” notes Chip Jackson, associate vice president of planning and facilities. The whole area just “cried for something better. ... We couldn’t support students the way they wanted to be supported.”

That applied to their studies as well. A river research project, underway for many years, was operating out of an already crowded science building on campus?not so conducive since it involved collecting samples and then transporting them.

? SOLUTION: Feasibility studies at the site, which as part of the Chesapeake Bay falls under stringent state rules for building, began in 2000. The boathouse was demolished and the 11,667-foot River Center and 2,700-foot Rowing Center constructed. Thanks to savings achieved through a design-build approach to mechanical and other systems, the college could boost the building’s sustainability with a geothermal heating plant system, explains Daniel P. Hannon, executive vice president of KBE Building Corp. KBE had a Construction Management at Risk contract but also assumed risk for the system’s design. During the yearlong construction phase, his team helped ensure that several events, including a Special Olympics weekend and Governor’s Cup Yacht Race, could go on as planned.

The smaller structure is used mostly for storage, while the main building’s focus is on activity. Its first floor has a classroom, offices, locker rooms, a boat repair area, and an outdoor deck, and its second floor has a multipurpose room, a kitchen and conference room, an awards and art gallery, and a lab for the river project.

A federally funded phase two of the project to help restore and protect the shoreline gets underway this summer. For now, “everyone’s just delighted” with the facilities, Jackson says. “The architect did an amazingly good job in getting [the River Center] to fit into the landscape and waterfront.” The inside of the building, he adds, serves so many functions well.

? COST: $6.7 million

? COMPLETED: September 2008

? PROJECT TEAM: MUSE Architects, Bethesda, Md.; KBE Building Corp., Columbia, Md.

? CONSTRUCTION OF A MUSIC COLLEGE IN VALENCIA, SPAIN, BY BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC (MASS.). Berklee Valencia will be the largest offshore U.S. music college. It will cover four acres of land in the new, $130 million ARTeria Valencia cultural complex?part of a network of performance, education, and related commercial spaces in several cities. The college will be in a 25-story tower sitting on a two-story, 1.5-acre plinth containing student and faculty housing as well as public and commercial space. The high-rise will be constructed of four-story concrete blocks stacked in a rotating manner. Expected completion of the project, designed by Spanish architect Anton Garcia-Abril, is 2011.

? CONSTRUCTION OF THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY INCUBATOR AT KETTERING UNIVERSITY (MICH.). This first building in Kettering’s Technology Park will be used for start-up research and corporate offices, encouraging high-tech entrepreneurship in mid-Michigan and supporting an entrepreneurial culture at the university. Expected to be the first building in the city of Flint to seek LEED certification, the 9,000-square-foot facility was designed by SHW Group’s Detroit studio and is slated for completion later this year.

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