After eight years of planning, lobbying, construction and fundraising, the new Agricultural Sciences Building on Utah State University’s historic Quad was officially opened in a celebration February 29.
The $43.1 million building was funded through the Utah State Legislature after approval in 2010 of Senate Bill 280. It replaces the existing E.G. Peterson Agricultural Sciences Building, which was constructed in 1953 at the Logan campus.
“This is a momentous and long-anticipated event,” Noelle Cockett, dean and vice president of Agriculture and Extension told the crowd that filled the atrium of the new building. “The impact of this building extends far beyond the people that will move in here over the next several days. It will provide inspiration for all who pass through its space and create new memories.”
The prestigious location on the Quad highlights the continuing commitment of USU to agricultural research and education, the agricultural industry and USU’s land-grant mission including outreach and extension. The new building opens 150 years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, which established land-grant institutions in the United States.
During his remarks at the building’s opening, Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food Leonard Blackham said “Agriculture is sometimes forgotten. Today, if you go to the grocery store, you have 4,000 items to choose from, maybe more. Having an abundant food supply is critical to our way of life and that abundance will go if we’re not careful. This building will help put agriculture back on top.”
The 125,000-square-foot building opened 665 days after the initial ground breaking took place in May 2010 and features two main sections. The section to the north contains three stories of high-tech teaching and research labs for students and faculty. It also houses new university-operated computer labs, classroom space ? including lecture rooms and a 116-seat auditorium ? student meeting rooms and the new Café on the Quad. The second section is a four-story structure that faces south and houses the faculty and administrative offices of the College of Agriculture, USU Extension and the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, as well as several centers, including Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, the Western Rural Development Center and the USU Botanical Center.
Various departments from the College of Agriculture and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences will call the new building home. Faculty and staff in the departments of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences; Plants, Soils and Climate, Applied Economics; and Journalism and Communications will be in the new building.
The building was designed and constructed adhering to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification guidelines. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is an internationally recognized mark of excellence and provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. Solar panels were placed on the south face of the building to provide shade from the southern sun as well as produce energy. The solar panels were added to the plans after a grant from the state of Utah was awarded to support innovation for building integrated solar systems.
“Looking at the south façade of the new building one can see the rows of green glass suggesting our agricultural heritage,” said Tom Peterson, project manager. “Shades of green glass express a commitment to creating a sustainable environment, and from the very beginning of this project our goal was to attain Silver LEED Certification. Our current calculations now place as LEED Gold, the first with this distinction on the USU main campus.”
The interior of the building features a combination of limestone, glass and bamboo, and a striking, four-story open atrium. Smart classrooms have been equipped with the latest technology and laboratories have been designed to enhance access and collaboration among researchers. The new Café on the Quad will serve various sandwiches, pastas, salads, pastries, organic coffees and will bring Aggie Ice Cream back to the Quad.
The new plaza on the north side of the building includes benches and sitting areas. Some overlook the Quad and others are near the College of Agriculture Memorial, which honors the students and instructor who lost their lives in a tragic van accident in 2005.