A/Z Awarded Construction Contract for Maritime Center of Excellence

Contract to Construct the Maritime Center of Excellence at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy

Article posted by Ocean News

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association (USCGAAA) has awarded A/Z Corporation of North Stonington the $18.2 million construction contract for the Maritime Center of Excellence (MCOE) to be built along the waterfront at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) campus in New London, CT. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for July 29.

“This is by far the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association’s largest campaign and is a culmination of recent successes that has seen the Alumni Association give back nearly $50 million to the Coast Guard Academy over the last decade,” said Vice Admiral Manson Brown, USCG (ret), Chair of the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. “The funds raised for this facility come primarily from private donors that include CGA alumni, parents of cadets and alumni, and friends of the Academy.”

“As the Coast Guard expands and recapitalizes its fleet of cutters and its afloat missions become more and more imperative to our national security, there will be an increasing Service need for more women and men to serve at sea,” said Academy Superintendent Rear Admiral William Kelly. “For that reason, the Maritime Center of Excellence has never been more important. This state-of-the-art facility will serve as a focal point in our mission to ‘instill a liking for the sea and its lore’ for the future leaders of the world’s best Coast Guard.”

This 20,000 square-foot facility boasts a contemporary design by the architectural firm SmithGroup that is expressive of sleek hull shapes, vessels under full sail, and wooden hulls. Its curvilinear vaulted roof, wooden decks, and true north orientation aim to harmonize with the waterfront landscape to create awe-inspiring spaces unlike any other at the Academy. The MCOE will include formal and informal learning spaces that will offer seminar space for up to 150 people.

“The MCOE will serve as the maritime front door for the academy, inspiring current cadets with interactive high-tech classrooms and labs directly at the waterfront,” said Randall Hogan, former Chairman and CEO of Pentair PLC and Chair for the Maritime Center of Excellence Campaign. “It will also enhance leadership development for numerous academy initiatives such as cadet summer programs, boat and ship handling training, coastal sail training, cadre development, and swab summer sail training.”

The MCOE has set ambitious, resilient and sustainable design goals, in support of the Coast Guard’s mission to protect the environment. It will be the Academy’s first LEED-certified project (targeting LEED Gold). All interior spaces have access to daylight, views, and natural ventilation, minimizing reliance on artificial lighting and air conditioning. Double-height spaces for vessel maintenance, offices, and the atrium promote natural ventilation. Other sustainable goals include exploration of ground-source heating and cooling, solar panels, and rainwater harvesting. The exterior palette features durable, resilient materials that are easily maintained.

“We wanted to create an iconic design that captures both the heritage and innovations at the Coast Guard Academy,” said Greg Mella, lead architect from SmithGroup who designed the facility. “The design draws upon naval architecture as a source of inspiration. From the broadest design gestures, like the roof, to the smallest details inside, the Maritime Center of Excellence celebrates the spirit of the Academy, its programs, and the service of its cadets – past, present, and future. This LEED-certified, modern design will bring the Academy’s waterfront into the 21st century.”

The MCOE will include a 2,000+ square foot Science and Engineering Innovation Laboratory that will expand the Academy’s educational and research capacity at the waterfront. With a 3-D printing workshop, stability testing tank, a wood and metal fabrication shop, and laboratory equipment, this innovative maker space will encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and foster scientific exploration.

“This laboratory will encourage collaboration in the areas of digital processing and robotics, equipment design and construction, alternative fuels and emissions, environmental and coastal resiliency, among many others,” said Hogan. “It will attract future generations of cadets to the Academy by impressively showcasing not only the academic innovation happening here, but also highlighting the nationally prominent intercollegiate sailing program and other preeminent waterfront leadership programs.”

This facility will fully modernize the Academy’s waterfront operations by providing year-round maintenance capability. The multipurpose boat bay will accommodate the entire fleet of vessels employed by the Academy’s sailing and professional maritime studies programs – most notably two L44 sail training vessels simultaneously. The ground deck includes a Dock Master office to support and monitor local underway training activities, ready access to boats, floats and docks, and offices for two administrators/supervisors and two instructors/coaches. Additional workstations and meeting spaces will be available in the open work area.

The demolition of an existing building will commence on May 24, 2021, with construction of the new facility to be completed by October 2022. “We are proud to be partnering with the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association on this inspiring project,” said Greg Cox, President of A/Z Corporation. “We have a long history of building up our local communities and this project will help us further our mission while impacting those who proudly serve our nation.”

For more information on the project visit