Greenhouse transplanted: Life sciences building to take its place

By Elika Roohi
Sun Star Reporter

The Agricultural & Forestry Experiment Station greenhouse as seen from Sheenjek Rd. on West Ridge. The greenhouse is set to be removed to make way for the new Life Sciences building. Jeremia Schrock / Sun Star

UAF will construct a Life Sciences Building where the West Ridge Greenhouse is currently located.

The greenhouse will be relocated, but the destination is unknown said Jeffrey Werner, the program director of FFA in Alaska.  Werner works on research of controlled environment agriculture.

Although the building will be taken down soon, the reconstruction date is still up in the air.  It depends on funding, said Carol Lewis, the Dean of School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Science (SNRAS).

The old greenhouse was “built in the early ’70s,” said Meriam Karlsson, a professor at SNRAS.

UAF’s greenhouses are unique.

“The University of Alaska Fairbanks is the only campus in the United States that has a winter to summer temperature difference of 150 degrees Fahrenheit,” Werner said.

In addition to the difference in temperature, there’s a difference in sunlight from zero hours to almost 23.  The new greenhouse “will provide innovating and exciting research,” Werner said.

The building is still in the “design and implementation stage,” Werner said, “Building in the Arctic is never easy.”

The new greenhouse promises some exciting research possibilities. “We’re excited to have a new building coming,” Werner said.  “We hope it will give back to Alaska.”

The decision to move the old greenhouse to make way for the Life Sciences Building was made because the location is ideal for utilities and resources.

The funding for the Life Sciences Building comes from Proposition B, which was voted in on Alaska’s Nov. 2 election.  UAF has been off the ground running since then.  The UA Board of Regents Facilities approved the final design on Nov. 9.

UAF hopes to have a contract for the building in place before the end of 2010 and begin construction this spring.  The building will likely be completed by late 2013 or early 2014.

The old greenhouse will probably be put to the same use as the greenhouse at Chena Hot Springs.  “That was started at UAF,” Werner said.  Once a location is found for UAF’s old greenhouse, we can expect the same type of project from it, he said.

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