Downeast Institute Residence Hall


Building in coastal Downeast Maine can be challenging. The Downeast Institute’s Residence Hall, situated across a lobster pound from the Institutes’ flowing seawater laboratory, included many of those challenges: single phase power, very little soil suitable for a wastewater disposal system, a small freshwater aquifer, and the harsh winter weather of coastal Maine.


Downeast Institute
Beals Island, ME

Technical issues aside, the residence hall is a building designed for simplicity. A straightforward floor plan helped achieve budget goals. A southern orientation with most occupied spaces on the south provided a good relation between interior functions and the sun’s path. A very simple building perimeter made air barrier and insulation goals easy to meet. In fact, the north and south exterior walls, which are load-bearing, were framed with 2×6 studs at 24 inches on center to maximize the effectiveness of cavity insulation. Further, window placement was driven by the stud layout, minimizing the number of studs in those walls. On top of that, the roof truss layout was coordinated with the wall framing layout to even further achieve structural and insulation efficiency.

The building has seven dorm-style rooms, capable of holding up to four people with bunk beds, or two people with dormitory single beds. Multiple occupancy bathrooms serve the dorms, while private bathrooms serve two suites. The residence hall has a full kitchen with commercial appliances and an exhaust and suppression hood. There are laundry facilities, a common room, dining room and an outdoor patio facing the ocean.

As a residential sleeping facility that is part of the University of Maine System, the building is designed to meet security requirements for dormitories. Perimeter security is established through swipe card locks. Entrance to individual guest rooms require swipe cards and a passcode. The residence hall will also house adults and families. In order to accommodate a diverse population, we designed rooms that can be used as dorms, as guest suites associated with the dorms, and as private suites separated from the dorms.