PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University celebrated the ongoing construction Wednesday (Oct. 1) of Phase 1 of the new Plant Biosciences Complex near the existing Johnson Hall.

Construction began at the site of the $39 million, 93,000-square-foot building in July.  The building, which is part of an expanded biotechnology research and education complex planned for the Pullman campus, is expected to be ready for occupancy by the summer of 2005.

“The reason we are here is that we recognize a great promise for the future. The world has been changed by the research that has been done at Johnson Hall and at Washington State University. The dreams and the plans that are emerging are represented by this great building,” said WSU President V. Lane Rawlins, who expressed his commitment “to complete a complex that will be second to none in these areas of research.”

Moderator for the event was R. James Cook, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. Other participants were WSU Regent Peter Goldmark; Joseph Jen, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics; Antoinette Betschart, area director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service’s Pacific West area; state Sen. Larry Sheahan and state Rep. Mark Schoesler.

The new building is part of a long-range plan to develop new research and education space devoted to biotechnology and related disciplines, and to bring scientists from various specialty areas together to create a community that will enhance WSU’s research in these emerging fields.

Thirty research labs with lab support areas will be housed in the upper three floors. On the ground floor will be four major teaching laboratories with adjacent equipment, demonstration and support areas. About one-third of the labs will be assigned to USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists.

A master plan for this campus precinct was prepared and recently revised to develop a Research and Education Complex comprised of six buildings supporting theme-based research in biotechnology.

“Having personally witnessed the remarkable advances in plant sciences over the nearly four decades of my career, I can only try to imagine the exciting scientific advances ahead from plant science research over the next two to three decades,” Cook said. He stressed the importance of the close collaboration over the years between researchers from WSU and the USDA.

In its last session, the Washington State Legislature approved funding for design work on a biotechnology building to be built north of Johnson Hall. The university will seek approval for construction funding for that project in the next biennium. Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved funding for design work for a new Agricultural Research Services building to be located nearby; approval is pending in the U.S. Senate.