Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Location: Portland, ME
Owner:  Gult of Maine Research Institute

Gulf of Maine Research Institute

For more than a decade, The Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine has provided middle school aged-children with a hands-on, immersive science education experience through the LabVenture program. Lassel Architects provided renovation design for the GRMI’s Cogen Center to support a new stream of NASA funded content. The new lab includes tiered platforms with multi-touch tables that enhance student collaboration by ensuring every child can engage actively. Behind the scenes, a completely renovated technical back-end allows the LabVenture team to project NASA satellite data as well as local fishery data onto the tables and the projection wall. The newly renovated lab promotes exposure to authentic science tools and methods of inquiry far beyond the reach of most Maine classrooms. The space helps students work efficiently in teams to gather evidence about the Gulf of Maine through hands-on, highly technical research activities. Other features of the renovation include an upgraded bio-diversity tank, new and repurposed lighting fixtures, acoustical treatment and life safety upgrades.

The renovation design was inspired by a 3D bathymetric (the underwater equivalent of topography) map of the Gulf of Maine, a dimensional wall map fabricated by Art Guild. Room seams were specifically designed and place to represent latitude and longitude lines. Gulf of Maine water depths are reflected conceptually in the layered contour wall and multi-level floor system. The level build-ups provide additional value as it conceals conduit running to the multi-touch tables.

Gulf of Maine Research Institute Website

The list of COTE (AIA Committee on the Environment) items was created to help understand how a project meets the needs of users and how it impacts the environment.  The list focuses on best practices and high impact strategies for creating healthy places to live and work.  Here are some ways this project measures up to the COTE list:


The layout of the space, colors, and textures were selected to delight the children coming into the space and enhance the experience of LabVenture program.


GMRI is located in downtown Portland, walking distance to several amenities. Most importantly, it is located on the waterfront with a working pier for their marine biologists and research partners to have easy access to the Gulf of Maine.

Several communities participate in the LabVenture program and are excited to allow their students to engage in the new program.


The existing lighting was upgraded to LED.


Careful attention was paid to accessibility throughout the space The layout encourages children to move throughout the space fluidly.


Design Partners Open Studio Collective
Technology UpSwell
Fabrication Art Guild
Contractor Oulett Construction


Year Completed 2018
Size 1,700 square feet