The Harold Alfond Foundation on Tuesdayannounced a $3.1 million award to Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences for construction of a 32-bed student and visiting scientist residence with four visitor apartments on the laboratory’s East Boothbay campus.

An anonymous donor has matched the award, allowing the project to break ground in April 2016. A separate endowment has been established to cover maintenance and operating costs of the new facility for 50 years.

“We are both honored and delighted that the Harold Alfond Foundation has recognized the value of the laboratory’s education programs by offering its generous support, making it possible for us to house students and visitors safely and comfortably on-site while participating in our many educational and collaborative research programs,” said Graham Shimmield, executive director of Bigelow Laboratory. “It will allow us to expand our educational programs so more students and professionals have access to our world-class scientists.”

“This is exactly the type of project that the Harold Alfond Foundation likes to support,” said Greg Powell, chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation board of trustees. “Bigelow Laboratory’s new residence met or exceeded all of our requirements.

“The project is entrepreneurial in that it will allow the laboratory to expand its educational offerings to not only students but to professionals, which, in turn, will help ensure economic growth for the laboratory and the region.

“The project is rock-solid financially and matched by a generous donor. Plus, it will be overseen by a great management team at Bigelow Laboratory, who have great vision and optimism for the state of Maine.”

Bigelow Laboratory’s educational programs serve high school students from every county in Maine, undergraduate students from across the U.S., professional short-course attendees, and visiting scientists from around the globe.

The new, 15,000-square-foot dormitory residence will overlook the Damariscotta River on the laboratory’s East Boothbay campus and will be a short walk from the main laboratory building and its shore facility. Energy efficiency, ease of maintenance, and respect for the surrounding environment embody the design.

The ground floor will be below grade to accommodate the natural slope of the landscape, creating a courtyard surrounded by ledge or a “natural amphitheater” in the upper area. A partial green roof will help absorb rainwater, provide insulation, and help create an aesthetically pleasing, natural look for the structure.

A mixture of glass, natural wood, aluminum and preformed concrete construction materials will promote longevity and easy maintenance while allowing the building to blend into the wooded acreage of the waterfront site. A 75-kilowatt array of photovoltaic cells will provide energy to meet all electric needs of the residence, including heating and ventilation. Windows, doors, and insulation will all be energy-efficient and provide maximum R-value rating.

“We are striving for a net zero energy building,” said Shimmield. “Since inhabiting our energy-efficient laboratory space that opened in December 2012, we personally understand how efficient energy use and construction goes a long way toward making a building pleasant to be in, and we are sure the same will hold true for the students and guests in the new residence.”

The two-story structure will have eight double bedrooms on each floor that can be flexibly arranged to accommodate eight to 32 guests. It also will provide a communal student kitchen and social area, adaptable meeting space that can serve dual functions as an auditorium or recreation area, and fitness and laundry areas.

Two adjacent wings will contain three studio apartments, each with a kitchen, bedroom, and bath to accommodate visiting scientists and other guests, and a two-bedroom apartment to house visitors with families.

Scott Simons Architects of Portland designed the building. The Portland office of Consigli Construction Company Inc. is providing construction management services.

The Harold Alfond Foundation furthers the legacy of Harold Alfond by investing in education, health care, youth development, and other philanthropic charitable causes that hold the promise of making enduring, transformative contributions to the community and state of Maine.

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, an independent, not-for-profit research institution on the coast of Maine, conducts research ranging from microbial oceanography to large-scale ocean processes that affect the global environment. The laboratory is recognized as a leader in Maine’s emerging innovation economy, and its research, education, and enterprise programs are spurring significant economic growth in the state.