Gulf of Maine Research Institute: LabVenture Facility Renovation
“Their knowledge going into construction was the recipe for a successful project. They made sure they understood what we, the customer, wanted and in turn taught us to be good construction customers.”
Alan Lishness, Chief Innovation Officer, Gulf of Maine
The renovation of the LabVenture facility at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) is an example of our dedication to excellence regardless of the physical or financial size of our contribution. While our team worked on just one piece of the multi-million-dollar project, the intensity of our involvement was anything but small.
Our work specifically revolved around creating the many different textures and levels of the lab space, as well as various room modifications to open up space up. Our primary role was to build support systems throughout the space to hold the state-of-the-art equipment, along with the structural forms to allow access to the interactive workstations.
We started by creating mockups to show GMRI the room layouts, which included specifications around where to put railings and other structural pieces. We had to figure out how to fit everything into the available space so that it could function optimally, which involved making sure wires and conduits were in the right place despite the lab’s strange shape and many odd angles.
One of our biggest challenges was to figure out how to build ramps and steps on a flat concrete slab that existed, within the existing space restrictions. We couldn’t use wood or any other combustible material, so David Lawrence, the project manager, suggested using concrete to build the different access points. In some areas, it didn’t make sense to pour 1 foot of concrete, so we used Styrofoam to fill in structures where necessary.
Another out-of-the-box solution was our use of glass panels that serve as handrails and also as boundaries for each platform. The transparency of the panels prevents sight obstruction from any part of the room to any other part of the room, and they also eliminate the risk of visitors tripping or falling backward off the multiple platforms.
Ouellet Construction worked alongside GMRI staff and multiple talented vendors from around the country, including: Upswell (Portland, OR), Education Development Center (Waltham, MA), Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA), external scientists Dr. Marissa McMahan of Manomet, and Curt Brown of Ready Seafood, Open Studio Collective (Portland, OR), Tenji Aquarium (Newcastle, ME), Art Guild (West Deptford, NJ), and local architect, Lassel Architects PA of South Berwick, Maine.