MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — A standing room only crowd of more than 200 people on Wednesday celebrated the official opening of Washington State University’s new Agricultural Research and Technology Building. The 18,750 square foot facility is the centerpiece of the $8 million renovation and expansion of the WSU Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center.
“This building is the first step toward the revitalization of this nearly 60- year old facility,” said Dan Bernardo, dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences in his welcoming remarks.
Bernardo thanked the community for their support in raising nearly $2 million in donations toward the revitalization. He told the audience that WSU president V. Lane Rawlins deserves credit for pursuing the project and committing $6 million to fund it.
“It was Dr. Rawlins that made this happen,” Bernardo said. “He made the decision to commit the funds.”
Rawlins told the crowd that the facility is representative of the university’s commitment to live up to its “world class, face to face” slogan.
“This is a resource that will foster world-class research that will affect the whole world.” Rawlins said. “This facility is a joint statement by WSU and this community that we are first class. We will work to be the best.”
The new facility, referred to as the ARTB, replaces more than 15,000 square feet of obsolete and substandard spaces. It provides state-of-the-art laboratories for entomology, fruit horticulture, vegetable horticulture, vegetable pathology, seed pathology, water resources and weed science. The building also includes office and administrative space, and public areas including an auditorium and a demonstration kitchen.
The new facility is allowing WSU to expand the NWREC faculty and staff. A small fruit horticulturist position was added and filled in 2005. New positions for an entomologist and a vegetable horticulturist are being filled through transfers within WSU. WSU has already begun a search to fill a new position for a value-added economic development specialist. A new four-bay 3,200 square foot research greenhouse already is under construction as part of phase 2 of the renovation.