UMFK

Architects present UMFK master plan

Architects shared their vision of how the University of Maine at Fort Kent campus can be improved when they presented a facilities master plan to members of the public at Fox Auditorium on Wednesday, April 19. (Contributed)

FORT KENT, Maine — Architects shared their vision of how the University of Maine at Fort Kent campus can be improved when they presented a facilities master plan to members of the public at Fox Auditorium on Wednesday, April 19.

The University of Maine System hired Harriman Associates, an award-winning architecture and engineering design firm with offices in Portland and Auburn, to undertake facilities master planning for all seven campuses within the system. Rickes Associates, a Massachusetts company, provided data analysis for the UMFK project.

Mark Lee and William Gatchell of Harriman Associates presented the UMFK master plan.

UMFK President John Short likened the master plan to an “excellent blueprint of possibilities for the future.”

Architects William Gatchell (left) and Mark Lee of Harriman Associates answer questions from members of the public at the University of Maine at Fort Kent Fox Auditorium on Wednesday, April 19. (Jessica Potila | SJVT/FhF)

The plan, which would be realized over the next 10 to 20 years suggests aesthetic and functional changes to the campus including the elimination of inefficient two-story properties such as Madawaska House and St. David House which are currently being used for office and classroom space.

Blake Library, Cyr Hall, Fox Auditorium and the Sport Center will all benefit from renovations if the plan is realized.

The first element of the master plan, Gatchell said, is to build a welcome center next to where the Old Model School building is currently located, to “create a front door to the campus on Pleasant Street.”

Eventually, the plan calls for erecting a new residence hall.

The master plan has been months in the making. Architects from Harriman Associates along with planners from Rickes Associates gathered at the UMFK campus October 17-19 to conduct interviews with faculty, staff and students about how they envision the structural future of the university, and to meet with other campus stakeholders and community members regarding the planning process.

Gatchell said the planners performed facilities analysis by walking through every building on campus met. They also met with the UMFK steering committee on a monthly basis since September 2016 to consult with them about the plan.

Representatives of Harriman Associates and Rickes Associates presented a University of Maine at Fort Kent facilities master plan to the public at Fox Auditorium on Wednesday, April 19. From left: Malcolm Collins, William Gatchell, Mark Lee, and UMFK President John Short. (Jessica Potila | SJVT/FhF)

Drivers which guided the planning process include strengthening the relationship between the town of Fort Kent and the college, improving the campus’ identity in terms of its Pleasant Street location, and solidifying the connection between the two segments of the UMFK campus which are located on opposite sides of the street. Implementing research-based design in formal and informal learning spaces will reinforce the educational process, according to Gatchell.

Funding availability will determine the extent to which university officials will institute elements of the plan, and when.

“As funding becomes available, now we have priorities,” President Short said.

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