Bowdoin College Harpswell Upperclass Student Apartments Receives AIANE Design Citation and Best in AIANH Award

Bowdoin College’s Harpswell Student Apartments Receives Regional Design Awards

The Annual AIA New England Design Awards Program celebrates architecture by New England architects anywhere in the world and architecture by other architects within the New England region. Each year the AIA New England Design Awards is hosted by one of the eight New England AIA Chapters. The 2021 Design Awards program – Placemaking through Architecture – was hosted by the AIA Central Massachusetts Chapter. Among 196 entries, Harpswell Upperclass Student Apartments at Bowdoin College was one of the 26 projects that was recognized as an award-winning design, receiving both an AIANE Citation Award and the AIANE Best in AIA New Hampshire Chapter Award.

The residence halls, designed around the concept of a “village in the woods,” comprise three 15,800 SF buildings that house 44 students each. The buildings were strategically placed on the site to provide students with a sense of community while also offering different levels of social engagement.

In support of Bowdoin’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, each building was designed to ­Passive House standards with “super” insulation, triple-pane windows, and efficient air-exchange systems for heating and cooling. The buildings are fossil-fuel free, all-electric, incorporate air-tight construction and detailing for thermal comfort, 12” thick walls for acoustic separation, and natural daylighting with strong connections to the outside.

Heavy timber was used as the structural system in the center of the building. This decision was made from consideration for economy, contribution to local trades, as well as providing beauty, and reduction of embodied carbon. Durability and maintenance considerations with interior finishes and a strong focus on the building envelope promised to drastically reduce heating loads and operational costs. The use of wood, texture, and color on the inside evoke similar feelings of warmth and invitation.

Each building has its own quiet patio, suitable for small conversation connected to a larger outdoor space for barbeques and games. Similarly, the entrance to each apartment spur from the building living-room. The building entrance is socially engineered to engage students with their surroundings and fellow students; connected to the landscaped courtyard and community room, creating opportunities for students to “see and be seen.”

Photography Credit: Siri Blanchette (Blind Dog Photography).