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Bowdoin College Center for Arctic Studies


Project Name

Bowdoin College Mills Hall & Gibbons Center for Arctic Studies

Location

Brunswick, ME

Architect

HGA

Size

46,500 SF

Project Name

Bowdoin College Mills Hall & Gibbons Center for Arctic Studies

Location

Brunswick, ME

Architect

HGA

Size

46,500 SF

1/4
Bowdoin College Arctic Center - screening room
Bowdoin College Barry Center For Arctic Studies event space
Bowdoin College Center For Arctic Studies event space
Bowdoin College Center For Arctic Studies Museum
Bowdoin College Center For Arctic Studies stairwell

Bowdoin College’s Arctic Studies program was established in the 1860s, eventually serving as a launch pad for world-famous alumni Robert E. Peary and Donald B. MacMillan, who led several expeditions to the Arctic in the early 1900s. The college’s Arctic Museum opened in 1967, and a new Arctic Studies Center followed in the 1980s.

By 2018, the museum and Arctic Studies program had outgrown the dimly-lit space in Hubbard Hall. Bowdoin selected HGA to design two new buildings on the site of a campus parking lot. The new buildings are the first commercially-scaled mass timber buildings in the state of Maine, and add to the sustainability-driven mandates on campus with high-performance envelopes and all-electric building systems.

Acentech joined the HGA team, providing acoustics and AV design for the new Gibbons Center for Arctic Studies, which houses the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, and the adjoining Mills Hall classroom building. The two connected buildings provide an array of dynamic new spaces, including a 60-person cinema, active-learning classrooms, museum galleries, faculty offices, collaboration spaces, and a 300-person private event space.

Acentech collaborated closely with HGA architects and structural engineers to design floor systems and other assemblies that achieve good acoustical performance in the mass timber design vocabulary, including exposed wood ceilings.

The buildings now serve a range of functions: that of a traditional museum presenting
art and artifacts to visitors; a series of “living” classrooms; and stunning, light-filled spaces for large groups and events. While these functions represent different space needs, they all perform well with the support of excellent acoustical conditions and reliable, seamless audiovisual technology.

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