The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will have a new building connecting to the plant biology building. Construction of the plant science building is set to begin in late spring of next year ac?cording to the director of capital Planning and Management, Robert Vaughan. “We’ve had the initiative to address the shortfalls in the two departments with CALS ever since I came here,” Vaughan said. “We’ve been asking for state money as a component of the project costs here every year for the last five years,” Vaughan said, “and it has been the number one priority to consolidate the two departments of plant and soil science and plant biology.” The University’s “invest and grow” strategy allowed this to be a reality, Vaughan said, along with money allotted from the state government. About $9 million of the more than $50 million project will come from the state legislature, according to a document from the University’s capital planning office. “Originally the thought was that we were going to renovate Hills,” Vaughan said, referring to the agricultural science building on central campus, but renovation of that building later proved not to be an option. “Hills Building, which houses a substantial part of plant biology teaching and research, is totally inadequate for modern biology and needs substantial refurbishment or replacement,” according to former Provost John Bramley in a document summarizing the steps in the decision to erect the plant science build?ing. “We did a feasibility study for it, we looked at it every way practical to renovate and add to it in order to accommodate the needs, it’s just too small to take over the departments,” Vaughan said. “The idea of the collaboration between the two [departments] is really a program-driver for this project in the first place,” he said. Because of the University’s desire to integrate the two departments of plant and soil science and plant biology, the new building will connect directly to the existing greenhouses, Vaughan said. The new building will be designed and located to provide for physical connections including the transportation of plants and material to the greenhouses currently connected to Stafford Hall, according to a University Web site about upcoming projects. The building is being designed to attain a LEED silver certification, according to the same Web site, to comply with the University’s Environmental Design in New and Renovated Buildings policy. The first floor of the building will be predominately classrooms, while “the two upper floors contain research laboratory and support space, faculty and student offices and related meeting spaces,” according to the University’s Strategic Capital Plan. The project should be completed around March 2010, Vaughan said, and it will be paid for with money from the general fund over a period of 35 years.