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Architects Chosen for 'Greening Aiken' Building Redesign

By Cheryl Dorschner Article published October 6, 2004

Aiken Finalist
The winning firm's preliminary vision for Aiken includes a waterfall and pond located where Marsh Life Sciences meets Terrill Building, and from it a walkway up through a natural area to the south entrance.

William Maclay Architects and Planners of Waitsfield was chosen to redesign and expand the George D. Aiken Center, home to the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. Donald DeHayes, dean of the school, announced the results of the design competition this week.

Maclay’s nine-person team was among 24 architectural firms who vied for the honor. In May, more than 100 students, faculty, staff and others took part in a two-day design competition in which the top four firms presented design concepts for the building redesign project, which the school calls the “Greening of Aiken.”

"We selected William Maclay Architects as our partners because they’re an experienced, nationally recognized Vermont company whose design ideas, ‘green’ approach and willingness to work with our faculty, staff and students to create the final plans are consistent with our goals,” said Professor Alan McIntosh, who is spearheading the project. “Together we will develop an exciting green design for the building and the systems to operate it. Most importantly, we will create an active learning center that integrates the building into the curriculum.”

“In 1980, the Aiken Center was built to accommodate a school of 350 students and 30 faculty and staff,” said DeHayes. “Today, the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources has 60 faculty and staff and more than 600 students, and the building’s systems are near the end of their lifespan. We have an opportunity, using environmentally friendly, efficient and sustainable materials and technologies, to bring this building into the future. I envision Aiken as a nationally recognized ‘green beacon’ that calls attention to the importance of the environment at UVM and uses the designing and building process as part of our curriculum.”

Maclay is no stranger to environmental and educational design or building requirements for cold climates. Among its projects are the offices of Wind NRG Partners in Hinesburg, a St. Lawrence University wetlands research building in Canton, N.Y., Yestermorrow Design Build School in Warren and the Inn of the Six Mountains in Killington.

“We’re excited to work with UVM on this important building. We feel that together we can use the Aiken Center to change how people think about the environment, and to realize that we live in nature whether we’re outdoors or inside a building,” said William Maclay. “It is particularly exciting that this facility is the home of UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.”

The design concept competition was the culmination of nearly two years of work by students, staff, faculty and UVM's Architectural and Engineering Services. The Greening of Aiken competition and initial phase was funded by a generous gift from the Lintilhac Foundation. Now the school’s faculty, staff and students will work with the Maclay team and UVM Architectural and Engineering Services to develop an initial design and budget. An intensive fundraising campaign has also begun. Undergraduate and graduate students are already investigating green technologies and materials and a related cost-benefits analysis class is being developed for spring 2005.