Portland, ME – Bruner/Cott Architects completed a new 30,000sf building for the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine.
Formerly housed in the downtown Portland Arts District, the Museum & Theatre’s former physical limitations restricted its ability to expand programming and services for steadily growing visitation and educational offerings. Now, located on Thompson’s Point in Portland along the Fore River, the new structure is designed to support greater access and future growth.
The size, scale, and shape of the museum & theatre connect it to the industrial shipping and railroad heritage of its site. Its proportions, rhythm, and fenestration patterns are inspired by Thompson’s Point historic brick structures, and steel cross-bracing is a referential feature.
Inspired by patterns found in nature, the exterior is clad with colorful metal shingles arranged in a dynamic pattern. Inside, the new building contains a 100-seat theatre, experiential exhibits, a STEM classroom and maker space, meeting rooms and offices, and an outdoor play area adjacent to the waterfront landscape.
Sustainable strategies employed in the project included first addressing the challenges of the site. Knowing that the building site was comprised of fill soil that would be expensive to remove and replace with structural soil, the project pre-loaded the building area to compact the soil and minimize off-site removal. Low wattage LED lighting was used throughout the building, and a VRF (variable refrigeration flow) system was installed for heating and cooling. These MEP measures save energy and operating costs because the entire system is more efficient than one that simply meets code.