College of the Atlantic will soon begin construction of a new dormitory on campus. CONCEPT ILLUSTRATION COURTESY OF OPAL ARCHITECTURE

COA to add new dormitory 



BAR HARBOR — College of the Atlantic was given the green light by the town’s Planning Board to construct a new dormitory that will house roughly 50 students.  

The building will be sited on 36 acres at its Eden Street campus. It will be constructed on the south end of campus, in an area just off the south parking lot that now holds several small, wooden buildings, which will be moved. 

The approximately 12,000-square-foot building will comprise double- and single-occupancy rooms, a community kitchen, a large common area with exposed mass-timber beams and a covered outdoor area.  

With plans drafted by OPAL Architecture of Belfast, the dorm is designed to Passive House principles, which include airtight construction, a high-efficiency envelope and heat-recovery ventilation. The 39-foot-tall building features mass-timber construction and wood-fiber insulation and will use one-fifth of the energy of a similarly sized, code-compliant structure. The dorm will achieve net-zero energy usage with a 36-kilowatt rooftop solar array. 

At a Planning Board hearing last week, COA president Darron Collins, also an alumnus of the school, said that when he was in college, finding housing in Bar Harbor was easy – something that couldn’t be more different today. He said the additional beds are not intended for additional students but to meet existing demand. It is one of the ways the school is trying to respond to the housing challenges in town.  

The college has taken a number of steps over the last few years to specifically address the housing needs of its 350 students, including the recent purchase of six residential properties in town on four contiguous lots on Norris Avenue and one at the corner of Norris and Glen Mary Road, as well as four units known as the Summertime Cottages at 1 Bloomfield Road to provide housing for 40 students. 

According to information from the college, current on-campus housing at COA provides space for 168 students. The newly approved residence hall would bring the number to 215.  

The school is also finishing up construction of another 15 beds at the Mount Desert Center in Northeast Harbor, which is expected to open this summer.  

According to the school, nearly all COA’s housing purchases, construction of the Mount Desert Center and construction of the new residence hall have been funded by the college’s Broad Reach Capital Campaign. 

Faith DeAmbrose

Faith DeAmbrose

Managing Editor at Mount Desert Islander

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