UGAMI begins major renovation of main lab

UGAMI’s Main Lab before the renovations. Most of the work in the first phase of the renovation will take place in the wing of the building seen on the right side of the photo.








Last month, work started on a major renovation of UGAMI’s main laboratory building.  This project represents the first phase of a multi-year plan to completely renovate and modernize the Main Lab.  At 20,000 square feet, the Main Lab is UGAMI’s largest building, and is critical to the Institute’s mission.

The main lab was built in the 1920s and was originally a dairy barn.  It was re-purposed as a research laboratory in 1953 when the UGA Marine Institute was founded.  It certainly wasn’t your average dairy barn (not many barns include a 100-seat theater), and it has served remarkably well as a research lab for the past 64 years.  However, at almost a century old, the building required upgrades to address critical infrastructure needs, and the space was not optimized to meet current programming demands.

The work being tackled in this first phase includes:

  • Replacing and upgrading the main electrical, plumbing, and heating/cooling services for the entire building;
  • Upgrading water and sewer lines servicing the building, as well as installing new septic tanks;
  • Gutting the northern half of the first floor;
  • and in the newly-cleared space, constructing four new research laboratories for use by visiting scientists and a 20-student teaching laboratory for classes.

See plans for the renovations of the first floor of the lab here: 3-4x – A-101A- FIRST FLOOR PARTIAL PARTITION PLAN -A Rev.0.

Undertaking a construction project on an island presents logistical challenges, as all of the construction material (and demolition debris) must be transported by barge.  The project called for a new foundation slab to be poured, requiring six fully-loaded cement trucks to be barged to the Island.

Support for the renovation is being provided by Major Renovation and Repair funds from the Board of Regents of the University of Georgia.  Phase I should be completed by April, just in time for the busy field research season and summer classes to begin.  Everyone at UGAMI is excited about the new teaching and research capabilities that these renovations will provide.  We will update the photo gallery periodically. Stay tuned!