Great Lakes Research Center
The Great Lakes Research Center will strengthen the image of Michigan Technological University and
strengthen the connection of the main campus to the Keweenaw Waterway waterfront. The building
represents the importance of research in the quest to understand the world’s freshwater resources. The
Great Lakes Research Center is designed to be a “green” building.
The building’s architecture is reflective of the mission of the MTU research programs, is respectful of the
campus setting, and provides a distinct and personal image for the Great Lakes Research Center. The
building’s forms, materials, and technology integration help to “tells the story” of water. The Lake Superior
environment inspires the building materials which include red cast stone in a ‘rocked’ face texture, aquatint
glazing used in windows and curtain wall systems, and metal panels (insulated and un-insulated) in
shades of buff, oxidized copper, and gray. Material choices support the goals of minimizing long-term
maintenance costs and reducing energy consumption for the facility.
The site has direct access to the Keweenaw Waterway and Lake
Superior. The elevation of the area is ideal for the facility as it is only a few feet above water level, yet well
above the lake high level mark. The selected location for the new research building is ideal for a number of reasons: Direct access to the
Great Lakes via the Keweenaw Waterway, high visibility from the north, close proximity to the Dow
Building, and close proximity to the docking facilities
The boathouse provides MTU with proper facilities to support field research activities on Lake Superior
and other bodies of water. The location of the boathouse provides convenient access to docks and
outdoor areas, accommodates working functions such as material/equipment deployment,
material/equipment clean-up, shop areas, equipment storage areas, and an office for the captain of the
Agassiz. Large overhead doors in the boathouse provide access between indoor and outdoor spaces.
The Agassiz and the Polar research vessels will be stored in the boathouse in the winter. Access for a
travel lift is provided from the take-out slip to the boathouse via the north overhead door.
Outreach areas provide the opportunity to connect research knowledge to public awareness of issues
facing the world’s freshwater resources. The Great Lakes Research Center is designed to promote the
awareness of our freshwater resources from many vantage points. Casual observation of the building will
allow the viewing of the research vessels moored in the boat basin; approaching the building reveals
more detail and provides glimpses of internal activity within the boathouse as well as views to the
Keweenaw Waterway and waterfront development. Upon entering the building, visitors are introduced to
the work being conducted in the facility by way of informational displays, views into research labs, display
aquaria, and interactive electronic imaging systems.
The large meeting room is designed to accommodate approximately 100 people for conferences and
large group gatherings, with the ability to be rearranged with different table/chair settings as well as be
sub-divided into three smaller conference rooms. The meeting pre-function area provides gathering areas
prior to meetings, group break-out opportunities and promotes general informal interaction between
building occupants and visitors.