Form Follows Function

Maine Army National Guard Aviation Readiness Center
Bangor, Maine

Government projects provide us a special opportunity to design structures in which the men and women who defend our freedom can take pride. In the case of the Aviation Readiness Center for Maine’s Army National Guard (MEARNG), designed to house the 126th, 142nd, and 224th units, our goal was to deliver modern facilities that allowed for the consolidation of the three units into a single, state-of-the-art training location.  

As the Designer-of-Record, SMMA proposed both a building and site scheme to meet MEARNG's needs. The project was delivered via design-build methodology—however, unlike many such projects, the building form, function, and location were left to the design-build team. To maximize the value for MEARNG, SMMA’s design placed a premium on high functionality and efficiency, within the context of a compact facility. 

Numerous diagrams defined the required main-floor adjacencies, and provided the basis for the proposed design. Readiness Centers include a combination of public spaces, which tend to be located toward the front of the building and serve to welcome visitors, and functional/technical spaces. 

For this project, public spaces included administrative and family readiness offices, as well as an assembly hall. In our design, we gave special consideration to the proximity of the family readiness center office to the main entrance.

Public & Private

We also considered the functionality of the administrative offices, including the provision of private offices for command functions and the optimization of open space for workstations and collaboration opportunities; and the floor plan of the administrative offices, which evidences SMMA’s focus on efficiency for the client.

Our team aimed to maximize open space—inclusive of a breakout area for small group gatherings—provide plenty of access to natural light, and create comfortable private offices for unit leadership. The breakout area was not a program requirement—careful organization of the platoon offices allowed for its creation.

Criteria for the facility included a combination of heated and unheated storage areas for each of the three occupying units. SMMA’s design team knew that drill weekends would bring the units together to complete various training exercises, so with space optimization in mind, our design aligned the three rear doors of the assembly hall with entrances to each of the three heated storage spaces, with unheated storage located just beyond.


The rear of the facility is organized with an extra-wide hallway that runs from the loading dock through the functional spaces. It begins at an oversized entry from the loading dock, which has direct access to the assembly hall, kitchen, and arms vault. This entry facilitates access to these functional areas, and allows for the efficient movement of large groups and supplies throughout.