Unity College: Portland

Where many people see an unassuming drab brick building in a corner of Portland, Maine’s historic waterfront, Unity College sees an unprecedented opportunity for a physical manifestation of our sustainability mission. This Center for Urban Ecology will demonstrate that in an inclusive transition to a sustainable future, how we choose to make change matters as much as the final product.

Our decision to adopt an integrated approach to building design led us to the Living Building Challenge, which requires regenerative systems and equitable design elements that have positive ecological impacts and increase human access to offerings within the building. 

The completed building will be an experiential education center to empower professionals and other audiences to create a better future for people and urban ecosystems through emerging technology.

The project team included multiple stakeholders from day one and Unity College’s president consistently challenged us to THINK BIG. The Living Building Challenge answered our desire for the highest possible sustainability targets. Virtual and augmented reality exploded the boundaries of how the building can both teach and be a hub for learning. The project promises to synthesize cutting edge design with tech-enabled sustainable education in a waterfront city facing infrastructure, social, and economic threats from climate change.