Inspirations and Innovations

Facility Focus: University of Southern Maine: The Learning Commons

Facility Focus: University of Southern Maine: The Learning Commons

Interactive and collaborative learning, rather than quiet study space, was the intention of the University of Southern Maine (USM) Learning Commons, a joint endeavor of the USM School Library and the Division of Student Success. Located on USM’s Portland campus, the Learning Commons incorporates a range of academic support programs with library resources and technologies. Designed by Harriman, the project renovated a 13,500-square-foot floor of USM’s seven-story library to create an academic and social facility that would unite students and staff with a variety of flexible learning spaces and library services.

Harriman’s approach was to create activity zones that encourage multiple modes of learning and discovery. The universal, barrier-free design places open and active areas on the perimeter, allowing natural light to penetrate the building’s deep floor plate. Enclosed group-study rooms and faculty landing offices line the interior, and study areas easily adapt to host different group sizes, further maximizing the space’s flexibility. The open floor plan features a multifunctional … Read More

A Call to Action on Sea Level Rise

A Call to Action on Sea Level Rise

Two recent reports from ULI Boston/New England, “Advancing Resiliency in East Boston” and “Developing Resilience: Living with Water Strategies for Greater Boston,” are furthering the conversation around how sea level rise will impact the Greater Boston area.

The conclusions of … Read More

The Changing Workplace: Choice is the New Trend

The Changing Workplace: Choice is the New Trend

The typical office workplace has been changing for decades, and most rapidly in the last 10 years. Cubical “farms” of the 1980s are disappearing. Workstation panel heights are coming down or vanishing all together. “Free Address Workplace” is the new … Read More

Refrigerant Gasses and Climate Change

Refrigerant Gasses and Climate Change

Written By Matt Strong

Ozone damage caused by refrigerant gasses is a big topic in climate change that needs to be addressed. Today’s cooling systems use HCFC such as R410A & R22 and HFC refrigerants but there is a plan … Read More

Innovation on Campus – Five trends in Higher Education Planning

Innovation on Campus – Five trends in Higher Education Planning

Colleges and universities are undertaking innovative strategies in campus planning that embrace technology in a physically connected social environment. Students and faculty are demanding more digital resources in and out of the classroom, but also want spaces that foster greater … Read More

Innovative Reinforcing Gives Old Structure New ‘Light’

Innovative Reinforcing Gives Old Structure New ‘Light’

After the dream of a new building fell through, Maine Health was faced with finding an existing building to house all of its corporate and administrative operations. Multiple offices, scattered about the city of Portland, Maine needed to be consolidated … Read More

An Inside Perspective on Urban Renewal

An Inside Perspective on Urban Renewal

Jul 06, 2016

Emily Keys Innes AICP, LEED AP ND Senior Urban Planner The concept of Urban Renewal has evolved since its origins in the 1950s as a federal program created to compensate for substandard housing conditions. The focus of our work has … Read More

How can we Keep Urbanism Sustainable?

How can we Keep Urbanism Sustainable?

Jul 05, 2016

Margarita Iglesia AICP, Senior Urban Planner and Designer

We need to focus on development in areas that are already developed in order to leave underdeveloped areas in their natural, pristine condition. If a LEED certified building has a 30-minute commute, … Read More

The Grass is not Always Greener

The Grass is not Always Greener

May 14, 2016

Let’s get one thing out of the way; “maintenance-free” landscapes are a myth.  So please stop asking.  Everything requires maintenance to be efficient and cost effective.  Landscapes are no different.   However, when planning your new development or other project you … Read More

Chapter 40B Design Review Handbook for Massachusetts

Chapter 40B Design Review Handbook for Massachusetts

May 14, 2016

Handbook: Approach to Chapter 40B Design Reviews, Massachusetts from The Cecil Group

 

Making approvals less time consuming and less expensive was paramount to the creation of the Handbook: Approach to Chapter 40B Design Reviews. This handbook creates a shared … Read More

Approach to Complete Neighborhoods

Approach to Complete Neighborhoods

May 14, 2016

Complete Neighborhoods: Exploring Holistic Community Planning from The Cecil Group

Today, people are expecting more from their neighborhood. The places people choose to live must provide opportunity, connection, walkability, recreation, amenity and a high quality of life. Many planning, development … Read More

Conventional Zoning vs. Form-based Code

Conventional Zoning vs. Form-based Code

May 14, 2016

Conventional zoning has traditionally focused on the segregation of land-use types, permissible property uses, and the control of development intensity through simple numerical parameters (e.g., FAR, dwellings per acre, height limits, setbacks, parking ratios). Design guidelines may be used to … Read More