Research complex under way

Although construction work is already underway, a ceremonial public groundbreaking for Phase 1 of the new Plant Biosciences Complex is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, in front of Johnson Hall Annex on Wilson Road.

Jim Cook, interim dean for the College of Agriculture and Home Economics, will preside. Speakers will include Lane Rawlins, WSU president; Peter Goldmark, WSU regent; and, representing the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Antoniette Betschart, Albany, Calif., and Joseph Jen, Washington, D.C.

Scheduled for completion in spring 2005, the $39 million building will have more than 93,000 square feet on four floors, said Paul Couture of WSU Capital Planning and Development.

This structure will provide world-class research and teaching facilities and represents the first of several new buildings that will create a new research and education complex for WSU, said Couture.

Housed in the upper three floors will be 30 research labs with lab support areas. The ground floor will include four major teaching laboratories with adjacent equipment demonstration and support areas. About one-third of the labs will be assigned to U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service scientists.

Prominent features of the building will be a student study gallery on the first floor and interaction areas on all four floors for research scientists, faculty and students.

Funding for the new construction came from the state Legislature. The USDA is proposing to fund or help fund the construction of another building in the complex in the future.

Researchers and students will move into the new building from the adjacent Johnson Hall building, which opened for use in 1961. Johnson Hall is named for Edward C. Johnson, WSU College of Agriculture dean from 1919 to 1949.

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