Ribbon Cut on L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Center

The L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Center, designed by SMMA, opened recently with a ribbon-cutting ceremony along scenic Brickyard Cove in Maine’s Casco Bay. The new Center replaces a series of smaller buildings on the site and serves as a new base lodge for L.L.Bean’s popular guided recreation experiences including kayaking, paddle boarding, snowshoeing, and cycling.

The design of the Center is inspired by its pristine Maine coast location, Maine cottage architecture, and the familiar L.L.Bean brand. “We wanted to design a building that emphasized the strong connection to the outdoors, and to blur the line between the interior spaces the outdoors,” said Mark Spaulding, SMMA’s project principal and lead architect. “The idea is to provide a memorable experience for L.L.Bean’s customers and visitors who come to enjoy the Maine environment.”

Designed for LEED certification, the building is oriented on an east/west axis, giving the main façade a wide frontage facing the water and a southern exposure for optimal use of sunlight and ocean breezes. All windows are operable, allowing visitors and staff to adjust interior temperature as needed. Nested gently into a hillside, the Center takes advantage of this configuration by providing an open basement level used primarily for storage, locker rooms and a bicycle workshop.

The interior is specifically designed to cater to the needs of L.L.Bean’s recreation customers and company staff. The main level features open ceilings with steel trusses and Douglas fir rafters and a sealed concrete floor with radiant heating. The primary customer space contains a large multipurpose room. Staff administrative space includes offices and a meeting area. A “great room” separates the two, and features computer kiosks for customers to explore other L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery School programs.