Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is planning to build a 50,000-square-foot building on its Quissett Campus.
The proposed three-story structure will be situated on 2.7 of the 4.1 undeveloped acres on the northern portion of the Quissett Campus property.
WHOI’s Quissett Campus totals just over 124 acres. The property, purchased in 1968, contains laboratories, recreation space, administrative buildings, educational facilities, walking paths, and parking lots. WHOI, a nonprofit educational corporation, plans to use the proposed facility to support emerging technology in marine science.
The institution filed plans and association documents with the Falmouth Planning Department on August 2. It plans to finish the building in 2021.
The planning board will need to refer the project to the Cape Cod Commission because it exceeds thresholds set for review under the Development of Regional Impact. Cape Cod Commission will need to approve the project before it can move forward.
The proposed facility will give two groups a new home. The building’s meeting, work, and project rooms will offer space for a new innovation group and incubator called “Advanced Vehicle and Sensing Technologies.” WHOI’s Rigging Group, which is currently located in Woods Hole village, will also make use of the proposed facility. The rigging group “supplies, maintains and fabricates equipment and supplies for research vessels that leave from the WHOI dock in Woods Hole,” according to a zoning analysis narrative submitted to the planning department.
About 85 parking spaces will be added to the site to accommodate staff. WHOI is the second-largest employer on Cape Cod, with approximately 1,000 employees.
WHOI will also introduce a new shuttle stop on the existing van circuit to encourage use of public transit to access the proposed facility. Building plans show interior bike storage and showers to make biking to work an option for employees. The site will also offer exterior bike racks.
Outdoor testing sites and equipment areas will be located in the vicinity of the proposed building. Project plans show hundreds of maples, pines, hollies, birches, and oaks that will act as a landscape buffer. Over 800 proposed shrubs are also listed on the plans.
The building plans show potential for solar panels in the future. About 45 percent of the facility’s upper roof will be able to support a photovoltaic installation.
VHB, a civil engineering, consulting and design firm, conducted a traffic study in July. It found that the new structure will be a “relatively low traffic generator.” The study notes that, although there is meeting and collaborative space within the new building, its proposed use is highly specialized. The facility will generate, on average, 27 trips (23 entering, four exiting) during weekday morning peak hours and 26 trips (three entering, 23 exiting) during weekday evening peak hours.
Four to six daily truck trips will no longer impact Woods Hole Village because they will be redirected to Quissett Campus, according to the traffic study. Eight full-time employees and one half-time employee would be directed to the new facility instead of their current offices in Woods Hole Village.
In a cover letter accompanying documents provided to the planning department, attorney Eliza Cox said that plans are subject to change during the Cape Cod Commission review process.
“The [New Quissett Facility] is proposed as a ‘technology accelerator,” reads an explainer on file with the planning department, “by creating this facility the NQF will become the epicenter of autonomous vehicle, sensor, and technology innovation at WHOI and around the world and could lead to a net increase in regional economic activity.”
WHOI aims to break ground on the new building in spring 2020 and continue work on it until summer 2021.