BAR HARBOR — A new two-story training lab in the works at the MDI Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) in Salisbury Cove met no opposition at a public hearing before the Planning Board last week.
Work is set to begin this spring on the 6,720-square-foot lab building. It will replace the existing Hegner laboratory building and a fish shed.
The project is supported by a state bond that voters approved last fall. MDIBL Director of Development and Public Affairs Jeri Bowers said she worked with the state to develop the bond funding mechanism.
“We’ve rapidly outgrown our facilities,” she said, “and we see research and development as a real bright light for the future of our state and local economy.”
The training lab will be used for the INBRE courses at MDIBL in which groups of undergraduates from several Maine institutions learn technical skills applicable to biomedical research.
College of the Atlantic biology Professor Chris Peterson spoke in favor of the project at the hearing, saying the courses have been helpful to his students for many years.
“It’s important to have this kind of training,” he said. “The INBRE program is really our gateway for our students to do biomedical research.”
Bowers also has conducted neighborhood meetings to discuss the project with Salisbury Cove residents.
The new facility will allow MDIBL to increase capacity in these courses in conferences, she said, and also free up lab space for faculty researchers. Student in the INBRE courses usually arrive from their sending institutions in vans and stay in MDIBL dorms, she said, and thus don’t have much of an impact on campus parking resources.
Architect Carla Haskell said her team tried to keep the building design very simple and have it blend into the landscape. The first floor training lab has removable walls to configure the space for various events and courses. The second floor includes a large teaching classroom and an 800-square-foot deck with an exterior stairway.
The project team includes Haskell, MDIBL Facilities Director Mark Hanscome, agent and landscape architect Sam Coplon and engineer Eero Hedefine.
Some of the old Hegner lab, and the new building in the same location, falls in the shoreland zone within 75 feet of the ocean at the highest annual tide mark. Under shoreland rules, allowable floor area and internal volume of the new building inside the 75-foot setback may be 30 percent more than the building being replaced. While the new building has some of its footprint in the shoreland zone, it is set back further from the shore than the existing building and its deck.