Phase 2A of the Marine Institute’s facility construction finalized in August — which involved the extension of the marginal wharf and the addition of a finger pier, the erection of a breakwater, and the installation of evacuation systems for ocean safety and survival training — and officials are already eyeing Phase 2B, which involves the construction of a second building on the site.
“We had thought at one point of doing the building at first, but because of the exposure around the north head out there, we know the sea head heaves in here,” says Glenn Blackwood, Memorial University vice-president in charge of the Marine Institute.
“We’ve been here now for seven years and back in 2009 we had water break over the wharf here, so we needed the breakwater and the wharfage done before we did the building.”
The next building will be a multi-storey structure at the far end of the existing parking lot. It will feature classrooms, workshops, labs, public engagement and collaborative spaces for faculty, students and industrial partners. It will also solve a growing space problem in the current building that was built during Phase 1.
“We’re very cramped here. It’s a gallon of milk in a quart jug,” says Blackwood, noting that they have some temporary offices set up on site, but want a more permanent solution.
“They’ve been great about it, but in the long term we’ve got to have office space for everybody.”
The plan for the building also calls for bays and garages on the bottom floor, allowing for the easy deployment of marine equipment directly to the water for training, ocean mapping, and testing prototype marine technologies.
Blackwood says the building will be the portal to the sea for the province’s marine technology sector.
“It’s access for small companies, access for our students and the marine training, a place we’ll tie up our vessels, a place will do our safety and survival training, a place to do our ocean mapping, the ROV programs, the autonomous vehicles at Memorial have all been developed and tested here, companies like Marport, Kraken and E-Sonar have all tested here.”
Blackwood says there’s already significant interest on the part of companies trying to get a foothold in the new facility.
“Our demands on the building right now is greater than the space, so we’re going through a gruelling process of identifying who gets what space.”
The project, however, isn’t funded yet and comes with an estimated $25 million price tag and unlike Phase 2A, the majority of that money won’t come by way of a long-term lease agreement with Iriving Oil at Marine Institute’s south side road facility in St. John’s that paid for $12 million of the $15 million development. (The other $3 million came through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.)
This time around, Blackwood says they’ll be looking for the continued support of the university and it’s board of regents, as well as provincial and federal support.