BY RAMONA DU HOUX
January 15, 2013
The celebration of the completion of the new campus for Bigelow Laboratories, center of oceanic research, in Boothby, Maine
“The opening of the new campus has allowed us, for the first time, to bring all of our science programs together under one roof,” said Laboratory Executive Director Dr. Graham Shimmield. “It’s made us a destination for a wide range of researchers, academics, and members of industry who want to work together to advance understanding of the ocean’s vital importance to all life.”
Over 350 guests, supporters, Bigelow scientists and staff, Cobly students along with state and federal officials attended a formal ceremony to open the Laboratory’s 60,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art science and education campus on the East Boothbay waterfront last December.
For more than three decades, the laboratory was housed in a collection of buildings it leased from the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
Bigelow Laboratory was founded in 1974 by the late Dr. Charles S. Yentsch and his wife Dr. Clarice Yentsch. It is internationally renowned as an independent, non-profit center for global ocean research, ocean science education, and technology transfer. Recognized as a leader in Maine’s emerging innovation economy, the Laboratory’s research ranges from microbial oceanography to the large-scale ocean processes that drive global environmental conditions.
Bigelow’s recent work on oxygen-generating phytoplankton, whose survival is crucial to life on Earth, uncovered an abnormal growth rate of phytoplankton last summer in the Gulf of Maine. There is also ongoing DNA research and Bigelow has a live-in research and education program in partnership with Colby College.
An independent economic analysis estimates that the new Laboratory will bring direct and indirect benefit to the surrounding region of more than $17 million annually by 2017.
With a mix of grants, donations and $4.5 million in 2008 Maine Technology Institute voter approved bond funds, the organization completed its move to the new facility.
“Federal research grants continue to be the Laboratory’s major source of revenue, but they don’t cover the full operational costs of our research and education programs, making it essential for us to secure charitable contributions to remain an independent and sustainable institution. said Bigelow Board of Trustees Chairman David Coit. “We’re very eager to welcome new supporters on board to help us fund the future of ocean science.”
The campus consists of three integrated science and education buildings, along with a shorefront facility and dock: The Walter and Helen Norton Center for Blue Biotechnology, the Center for Ocean Biogeochemistry and Climate Change, and the Center for Ocean Health. The $31.8 million campus project was made possible by a combination of state and federal grants, private financing, and private donations.
Consigli Construction Co., Inc. in Portland, ME, managed the 27-month construction project, which provided over 250 full and part-time jobs in Maine, with an estimated statewide direct and indirect impact exceeding $57 million.
Every aspect of the new campus was planned according to the environmental design and construction standards of the U. S. Green Building Council, and is designated as a LEED® Platinum facility. The campus is the first scientific research laboratory to achieve LEED® Platinum status in Maine, and one of seven in the New England area.
In October, the Maine State Council of the Society for Human Resources Management announced that Bigelow Laboratory, which currently employs 70 people, ranked ninth among 32 organizations in its category as one of the Best Places to Work in Maine in 2012.