University of Maine at Augusta Selected as Partner for Remain’s 2024 Envision Resilience Portland and South Portland Challenge

Eight Universities Selected to Participate in the 2024 Design Studio and Community Engagement Initiative to Explore Climate Impacts in Portland and South Portland, Maine

The Envision Resilience Challenge, a multi-university design studio and community engagement initiative founded by philanthropist Wendy Schmidt, announced today that its fourth year of programming will take place in Maine. University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) has been selected as one of eight university partners to participate in this year’s challenge. Other participating universities include Cornell University, Harvard University, University at Buffalo, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, Yale University, and the program’s first international partner, University of Toronto.

UMA’s Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) program offers the only professional architecture degree in Maine and the only public 5-year professional degree in northern New England. UMA teaches architecture through engagement, educating, and empowering students to explore, investigate, and analyze the built environment. Examples of how students engage in local communities, as well as its accreditation by the National Architectural Accrediting Board program can be found at

Architecture students with 3-D building models

Over 25 years ago, Professor Roger Richmond envisioned the architecture program as a two year-plus associate’s degree which grew to a full Bachelor of Arts degree in 2001. While maintaining high quality core values of Space, Scale, and Light, and the necessity to Design with Intention, the program began to use more advanced tools and language of architecture. The goal was always to best prepare graduates for further study, professional practice, or immediate employment, and to have successful graduates leave the University with an awareness of the importance of architecture in the development of society, and architecture’s power to affect the quality of individual lives.

Portland, South Portland, and the Casco Bay Islands have been chosen as study sites for the 2024 fall design studio, which will convene community stakeholders and teams of students studying architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and environmental science. Like coastal communities around the world, Portland and South Portland are at the forefront of a changing climate. The Gulf of Maine waters are warming, and sea levels are rising at three to four times the global average. Winter storms this year have flooded downtowns, damaged wharves, washed away historic structures and set record high tides.

The 2024 Envision Resilience Portland and South Portland Challenge has worked with the local community to identify several sites that will be the focus of the student teams:

  • Portland Working Waterfront
  • Portland Industrial
  • Portland Public Open Space & Parks
  • South Portland Waterfront
  • South Portland Industrial
  • Casco Bay
  • Casco Bay Islands

Building on the success of its previous challenges, the Envision Resilience Challenge will bring to the Greater Portland Region a leading network of students, faculty, and researchers to engage with municipal and community leaders, business owners, local stakeholders and nonprofit and science organizations. Student participants will spend the fall 2024 semester diving deep into local challenges, researching pathways forward, and proposing adaptive and imaginative solutions to the current and future impacts of climate change.

“Climate change is the defining issue of our time—but instead of fearing the future, this program asks us to reimagine the future we would like to see and then work toward it,” said Wendy Schmidt, founder of Remain. “The Envision Resilience program reminds us that when we collaborate and approach challenges with creativity, we can work toward a brighter future. The eight participating university teams bring the ability to merge spatial and social histories, community input and speculative futures that will become hopeful visions for Portland, Maine, and other communities facing similar challenges.”

“Being selected to participate in the 2024 Envision Resilience Portland and South Portland Challenge is a great honor. Our students are going to benefit greatly from the incredible resources that Remain provides as part of the Challenge Studio. The ability to collaborate with the other seven universities will be a great learning experience,” says UMA Professor of Architecture Patrick Hansford, a practicing architect with over 38 years of experience, whose most recent project was a shelter for victims of domestic violence and homelessness in his hometown of Troy, Ohio. “Our community design studio focuses on service. Being part of this year’s Envision Resilience Challenge will afford our students the opportunity to work with community partners in Portland and South Portland to address important issues facing Maine, New England and beyond.”

Following the fall semester design studio, the Envision Resilience Challenge facilitates community programming, events, and an exhibition to showcase the design outcomes to the region. To date, the program has worked with 346 students, 70 community advisors from eight coastal communities and 22 student teams from 13 universities. The public is invited to follow along throughout the duration of the challenge at and via social media (@envisionresiliencechallenge). To learn more about the previous studios, explore the design outcomes of the 2021 Nantucket, 2022 Narragansett Bay and 2023 New Bedford and Fairhaven student teams.

Envision Resilience 2023 Launch” from Envision Resilience on Vimeo.

About the University of Maine at Augusta

UMA transforms the lives of students of every age and background across the State of Maine and beyond through access to high-quality distance and on-site education, excellence in student support, civic engagement, and professional and liberal arts programs.

About Remain

Remain works to bring creative thinking to environmental and community challenges, elevate local industry and encourage innovation and resilience. Remain Nantucket engages in charitable work to support the evolution of a healthy year-round community across the island. Remain Ventures invests in buildings and mission-related businesses that strengthen Nantucket’s year-round economy and spark innovation that brings long-term value to the island’s residents. Both Remain Nantucket and Remain Ventures are funded by Wendy Schmidt and her husband Eric to support the local economy, community, and environmental vitality of the island of Nantucket.