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New Quissett Facility

October 1, 2019

To the Members of the Woods Hole and Greater Falmouth Community:

WHOI applied to the Cape Cod Commission to build a new building, referred to as the New Quissett Facility (NQF), on the Quissett Campus. The proposed project consists of the development of a new, 50,000 GSF, 3-story building on the 124-acre Quissett Campus off Woods Hole Road in Woods Hole, MA. As part of the ongoing WHOI Strategic Facility Assessment (SFA) and the drive to rebuild its waterfront, the purpose of the building is to provide space for relocating existing waterfront facilities to adjacent users and to create a new space with diverse resources and people to make exciting technology breakthroughs in above- and underwater autonomous vehicle and sensor technology (AVAST) research and development.

The proposed building will be adjacent to the LOSOS building, outside of the existing road. Various locations were evaluated, and the location was determined to be superior for the needs of the users and the proposed programming for the research facility, and will fit within the confines of the funding for the building. The proposed building will be 3-stories tall with the smaller third story being approximately three-fourths of the building footprint. The exterior building envelope will match that of existing research facilities throughout the campus but will use durable rainscreen panel facades that echo the warmth of the weathered gray cedar and will require much less maintenance than traditional wood. The rooftop will be solar ready when extra funding becomes available to purchase solar voltaic arrays.

The building will have a series of large, double height working spaces with cranes, overhead doors, project workrooms, temporary space, collaborative space, a social gathering hub, moveable furniture, and fabrication machines. The third floor is designated as shell space, which will serve as a vital space for temporarily locating existing departments from areas that require renovations in other buildings. Once renovations are complete or new projects are created, the space will be fit out, as needed. Thus, the NQF will offer a broad spectrum of services to meet the immediate needs of its researchers and the worldwide oceanographic community, and will help to support new and emerging technology development in marine science.

So, where does the funding come from? Funding for the project stems from a bond issued by MassDevelopment.  MassDevelopment works with nonprofit organizations and institutions to help them with access to capital to finance costs such as equipment upgrades, new construction, or renovations. In 2018, MassDevelopment issued a $75M tax-exempt bond on behalf of WHOI. The bond proceeds also refinanced previously issued debt at a lower interest rate.

Contrary to popular belief, WHOI’s $230 million annual budget is the restricted cumulative total of approximately 750 active research projects. Unlike for-profit businesses, this restricted funding cannot be used in any other way than the research needs of a given project.  Funding for unfunded projects like the NQF must be carefully evaluated, come from other sources, and support the current and future needs of WHOI’s researchers.

So why Quissett Campus? Stemming from crowded conditions in the village and the need to expand its research, the Quissett Campus was purchased in 1968 to protect the character of the Village of Woods Hole, prevent aggressive over-development there, and smartly segregate research uses from residential activities, over time. Additionally, the property provides resiliency to the Institution in the event of catastrophic, weather-related events and sea-level rise at its waterfront facilities. It is believed that without the Quissett Campus, the Institution would have needed to move elsewhere in Massachusetts or Rhode Island to continue its mission. As part of this project, WHOI is proposing to set aside conservation land as an offset for the proposed development, including areas between neighboring abutters.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a Massachusetts non-profit educational corporation and is the world’s largest private, non-profit ocean research, science and education organization. WHOI is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society. Since its incorporation in 1930, WHOI has been a critical part of the ocean research community in Woods Hole, the Commonwealth, the region and around the globe. WHOI has approximately 1,000 employees and is largest employer on Cape Cod behind Cape Code Healthcare.

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