Congratulations to Bowdoin College on the opening of The Roux Center for the Environment – the newest building on this campus that was originally founded in 1794. With about 1,800 undergraduate students, Bowdoin is located in Brunswick, Maine and is consistently one of the top-rated private liberal arts school in the US.
To celebrate the building opening, Bowdoin sponsored a day of dedication events starting with an academic symposium on “Understanding Our Environmental Future: Science, Policy and Art”. The highlight of the activities was a keynote address by environmental advocate, filmmaker and author Philippe Cousteau.
What is the New Roux Center for the Environment?
The new Roux Center for the Environment will be home to the Environmental Studies program and support faculty and students across all the environmental disciplines at Bowdoin College. The Center was also designed from the bottom up to facilitate a new way of teaching, learning and scholarship for this unique interdisciplinary program.
The building is named after David and Barbara Roux who were the lead donors for the project which broke ground in May 2017. Architectural firm Cambridge Seven Associates (C7A) of Boston coupled innovative architectural design with sophisticated, forward-thinking academic planning to design a building to put the focus on the environment. The new 3-story 29,000 sf academic building consists of classrooms, teaching labs, research labs, faculty offices, conference rooms.
“This new building will bring together scholars and students from across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.”
Clayton Rose, President of Bowdoin College
The exterior of the building is clad in thermally modified and sustainable popular siding from Virginia contributes to the building’s authenticity about place and sustainability about the environment. Over time, the siding will age gracefully from a coffee brown color to a silvery-gray patina like aged cedar.
What’s Special About the Roux Center?
The Roux Center is the greenest and most advanced academic building at Bowdoin College and will expand the field of environment studies by tackling a range of issues with a new way of interdisciplinary teaching, learning and scholarship.
The building was constructed to meet LEED Platinum standards – the highest level of certification issued the US Green Building Council which recognizes buildings for their sustainability, energy efficiency and environment impact. A 2,820 sf vegetative roof garden contributes to the LEED standard by absorbing storm-water runoff and serving as an additional layer of insulation. The roof terrace will also be used as an outdoor teaching area and water collected from the roof will be used to flush the toilets in the building.
The building is divided into two sections, known as bars. Faculty offices and research labs are in the east bar, while all the teaching spaces, classrooms, and labs are in the west bar. Situated between the two bars, an informal common space separates offices, labs, and classrooms with glass partitions that visually connect the internal space. At the front of the building is a glassed-in auditorium space called “The Lantern,” reflecting the fact that the Roux Center is designed to be a welcoming space for performances, community forums, social gatherings, and talks in addition to teaching and research.
The glass interior reflects a part of the building’s fundamental mission to promote and display the interdisciplinary nature of the Environmental Studies program.
As noted in an article in the Bowdoin Orient, the “architecture itself also becomes an educational tool.” This was succinctly summed up by Tim Mansfield, the lead designer of the project from Cambridge Seven Architects who was quoted in the article,
We didn’t put ceilings in the classrooms. We wanted to expose all the ducts, the wires, the conduits, all the shit it takes to run a building. We want you guys to understand what it takes to be a building.”
Tim Mansfield, Architect at Cambridge Seven
How Did Vantage Contribute to the Roux Center Project?
Vantage worked with the C7A project team, campus technology leaders and pedagogical team to apply the vision for the Roux Center into a clear and exciting concept for the technology in the space. We proposed a range of solutions for consideration to support the teaching, research and scholarship goals of the college. In addition, we developed a briefing document that defined the technology system requirements, implications and estimated budgets to help the team make informed cost/benefit decisions.
During design development, we provided architectural and engineering design support and preliminary systems designs and coordinated with other disciplines for placement of low voltage wiring, AV-related devices and speakers, and other IT equipment. In the construction documents phase, we worked closely with C7A and the rest of the project team to produce bid drawings and specifications for the supply and installation of all structured cabling, infrastructure and technology systems.
In The Lantern, we used an audio-over-IP solution to reduce the amount of cable and infrastructure needed to support the AV equipment. In addition, we worked closely with C7A to hide the AV system components and developed a solution for the projector and screen to drop from the ceiling only when it needs to be used. From an acoustical standpoint, we carefully aimed the speakers to reduce reflections off the glass walls.
Learn More about the Roux Center
To learn more about the Roux Center, here are some resources that provide additional details about the concept, design and operation of the new building.
- What Makes the Roux Center Building So Special – an article from the Bowdoin student newspaper with information about the building dedication
- A Green Roof for Beauty, Function and Education – an in-depth look at the green roof and garden on top of the Roux Center
- Bowdoin’s New Roux Center Isn’t Just Another Academic Building – an article from Mainebiz
- A New Environment for Learning – the design drawings and background story from Cambridge Seven Architects
- Roux Center for the Environment – concept drawings and blueprints
This video of Bowdoin Professor Matt Klingle, director of the environmental studies program, and Cambridge Seven Architect Tim Mansfield discussing the concept behind the Roux Center was taken during a June 2017 alumni event: