Orono, ME – “A 3D puzzle.” That’s how WBRC civil engineer Paul Monyok describes meeting the project goals at the site of the new University Credit Union (UCU) headquarters and town parking lot in Orono. “There was a real parking shortage downtown,” Monyok explains, “so the town of Orono and UCU decided to come together and create an anchor commercial property that also helped meet the parking demand.” Orono’s newest community landmark, located on the corner of Main St. and Bennoch Rd., was built on the footprint of a burned-down apartment building, necessitating the removal of truckloads of contaminated soil. The site also sloped steeply toward the Penobscot River, and is adjacent to a public walking trail. To provide the nearly 80 spaces the town was looking for, the parking lot had to be excavated and filled with engineered aggregate, held in place by a 474-foot by 30-foot retaining wall, buried 10 feet.
Every design decision was made with the community in mind, Monyok says — from the color of the retaining wall to the outdoor LED lighting, designed by WBRC electrical engineer Lura Wade. “Factors for the outdoor lighting design included having the right intensity and uniformity of light for security,” she says, “but also being careful about light trespass, since the site is near a residential area.” WBRC landscape architect Paul Brody provided overall site concept and design of the site’s public plaza, which includes a Schoodic Symposium sculpture by Teng Shan Chi, granite benches, gardens, and river birch trees. The plaza and stairs are designed with radiant heat tubing to promote snow melt — a definite plus during the recent New England winter.
The 18,212sf building serves as UCU’s corporate headquarters, including administrative offices, business account services, and eBranch. It also includes a 3,500sf branch with drive-through and 24×7 ATM service, with space available for additional tenant use. The Sheridan Corporation served as the general contractor for this project. WBRC’s Kris Kowal, AIA, was the project architect/project manager, and Rob Frank, P.E., served as principal-in-charge. The WBRC team worked closely with UCU president Matthew Walsh and Orono town planner Evan Richert. As a team, solving the 3D puzzle, and creating a multifaceted anchor property in downtown Orono, adds up to what Paul Brody calls “a highly rewarding project.” Paul Monyok agrees. “It’s rewarding to help take a piece of property that was underutilized,” he says, “and help turn it into something that will last long after we’re gone.”