Kennebec Valley Community College, Sustainable Agriculture Building


credits: Sandy Agrafiotis

Project Name

Kennebec Valley Community College, Sustainable Agriculture Building

Reflecting the program, direction and spirit of a new campus, KVCC’s new Agriculture Building integrates experiential learning, sustainability, the farm-to-table movement and philanthropy. 

“It’s a beautiful building that makes us proud.  It is a major reason that people enjoy studying at the new campus (and faculty enjoy teaching there.)  You have raised the standards for the community college environment. Thank you for the wonderful design.”   – Richard Hopper, President, KVCC

With the acquisition of nearly 800 acres of land, Kennebec Valley Community College is developing the Alfond Campus to house the new Sustainable Agriculture Program.  At this campus, students will learn the lay of the land of organic farming and food production.  The Agriculture Lab is the first building on the new campus, serving as a model for future campus development.  The building includes food processing and testing labs, general classrooms, a 60-seat auditorium lecture hall and a student lounge and informal learning spaces.


The project is a product of a holistic and integrated design process.  Architects, engineers, and interior designers worked closely with a broad spectrum of stakeholders  to raise the bar on what a community college building can be.  The design supports the pedagogical shift to student-focused, project based learning environments.   Classrooms are set up for flexibility and collaboration; the main hallway is lined with niches of varying sizes and degrees of privacy to provide a quick touch-down space for students between classes or small group meetings.  The “chill” space provides an inviting flexible space for commuter students to hang out throughout the day.


The building’s forms were inspired by the vernacular agriculture buildings, the existing campus, and an idea of how a modern lab building can integrate with the environment, site, program and future campus.  Stone walls, furrowed fields, the molecular structure of chlorophyll-B, and cellular chromatography all influenced the design.  The greens and blues of chlorophyll, the basis for all plant life and the essential studies of the program, inform the color palette.


Clad in stone and brick, the building reflects the timeless existing buildings, while window sizes, proportions and number reference existing elements as well as the graphic nature of chromatography.  The floor plan is configured in a manner that begins to resemble the atomic structure of chlorophyll-B molecule. Banding and linear elements in the building evoke planted rows in the field.


Adhering to a tight construction budget, the team designed the building to achieve NetZero performance by designing a tight building envelope, using energy modeling, and coupling a 10,000 SF photovoltaic array to a ground-coupled geothermal system.


Architecture or A/E Firm Name

SMRT Architects and Engineers


Nicole Rogers, AIA


Paul Lewandowski, Principal-in-Charge (former SMRT principal); Kristen Damuth, Project Manager, Tim McDonald, Job Captain; Jeana Stewart, Interior Designer; Andrew Bradley, Structural Engineer; Kerry Dineen, Mechanical Engineer; Robert Brink, Electrical Designer


Fairfield, ME


Kennebec Valley Community College

General Contractor

Benchmark Construction