The Strategic Facilities Assessment was driven by WHOI’s need to understand how to update our facilities to create the best environment to collaborate on groundbreaking scientific research and discovery.
Our ability to remain at the forefront of ocean research, exploration, and education relies on our scientists and engineers being able to push the boundaries of knowledge about the ocean to reveal its impacts on our planet and our lives. We can’t do that without a modernized campus. By undertaking a process to methodically analyze the strengths and needs of our facilities and physical plant, we understand how best to effectively support our mission, train future generations of ocean science leaders, and assure our place as a world-class research institution.
Three areas of emphasis have emerged: (1) a close inspection of our current and future institutional needs; (2) an examination of existing facilities and how they are used; and (3) creative thinking about the types of improvements that will enhance the ability of our researchers and partners to conduct and collaborate on groundbreaking science.
Along the way, we considered how our buildings could reflect shifting research needs, how to create flexibility for continued collaborations with other research institutions, and how best to prioritize water dependent activities on the harbor
It was overseen by the architecture and planning firm DSK, a long-time partner to WHOI on facility needs. The Board of Trustees has been closely involved and a number of our academic, research and operational leaders have provided input into the process.
The biggest takeaways are the need to address longstanding deferred maintenance needs extending across the Waterfront to the Village Hill and Quissett campuses, a clear objective to prioritize research on our Main Dock, and a changing research culture that requires more integrated facility management to encourage collaboration and innovation. In addition, we see a number of potential opportunities to improve safety (pedestrian and road), better connect our campus to the community and maintain or enhance green space.
We are in the early phases of what we anticipate will be a multi-year exercise of identifying and moving forward with potential projects. To assist with this work, we continue to engage with DSK to consider priorities. We will move forward in a way that is financially prudent and engages the community around new projects as they are identified.
While we now have a better baseline understanding of our current campus and opportunities for the future, any new projects will be considered individually. Due the changing research and funding environment, we want to be prudent in considering only projects that could be financially viable.
We will begin to invest in distinct areas of need that were identified through the strategic facilities assessment. Our facilities needs are independent of each other, but the assessment gives us the ability to address them in a phased manner over the next several years, on a case-by-case basis.
We’ve already begun that work on the waterfront. There’s a clear need to address the Main Dock’s useful life. In collaboration with the town of Falmouth, we applied for and earned a grant from the Seaport Economic Council to study waterfront conceptual designs and costs. Starting with the Main Dock makes sense. The waterfront is at the core of what we do and who we are. Getting the design work underway for a new dock enables WHOI to pursue other state and federal funding opportunities for future construction, operations and maintenance.
Beyond the Main Dock, we are confident that we will continue to improve access on our campuses and increase the functionality of our facilities.
We’re working to optimize the Village Hill campus in terms of improved safety, accessibility and integration within the community. We expect to unveil plans on that front in the near future.
We’re also working on a plan to link deferred maintenance needs directly to program enhancement. We’re focused on the Quissett Campus, where we believe a more cohesive campus community can help deliver enhanced research outcomes. With smart investments, we meet future research and support needs while preserving and enhancing our open space.
We believe the local community in Woods Hole and Falmouth as well as the rest of Cape Cod ultimately benefits from reinvestment in our facilities. Facilities improvements drive productivity while allowing us to foster greater collaboration and accessibility for the all of the nearby marine, oceanographic and technology companies and institutions that we partner with. Ongoing campus upgrades will also ensure that the campus is attractive to the global research workforce, which results in carryover economic benefits for the Cape community.