The center's board of trustees approved the plan on
"This is a major growth phase that we're entering into," said
"This is significant both within and outside of
The center's building, finished in 2001, houses 227 employees in nearly 170,000 square feet of lab, office and greenhouse space. The new facility will add nearly 80,000 square feet, housing state-of-the-art lab spaces that can be modified to accommodate new approaches in scientific research.
"Our building is a wonderful building. It's got decades and decades of productive life in it," Carrington said, of the center's headquarters, a striking glass-and-steel box near the intersection of Olive and Lindbergh boulevards. "But science does change, and what we demand out of the space changes with the science."
The addition, slated for completion at the end of 2015, will enable researchers to work within a nontraditional lab environment that accommodate advances in robotics, bioinformatics and group approaches to research.
"These things don't fit conveniently in the traditional lab building," Carrington added. "We'll be able to reconfigure the space, because the furniture will be mobile, flexible. The new building will be able to accommodate current science and future science much more easily than the current building does."
The center plans to break ground next year. It also plans to complete a nearly 17,000-square-foot greenhouse later this summer, adding to its nearly 28,000 square feet of greenhouse space.
The center, founded in 1998, has become a cornerstone in the region's agricultural bioscience community, earning a reputation as the best of its kind. Just within striking distance of the center
"The expansion will have follow-on effects," Carrington said. "Our scientists collaborate with startup companies, many of which are recruited to this area because of the center. Some of those companies will spin out of the labs here at the center. All of that will accelerate with this expansion. With increased numbers of principal investigators, you're going to see in the future more spin-outs, more products, more companies attracted to the region."
Carrington said the center will now embark on fundraising efforts, but would not provide more detail.
"We don't plan to make any announcements on the process," he said. "There are two major components that we'll need to focus on. First is the money to build the building. Second, we'll need to grow our endowment. ... A hundred new scientists means we'll have to increase our endowment significantly."
The not-for-profit center focuses its research on plant breeding and biotechnology with the goal of providing improved plants, royalty-free, to growers in areas where disease and drought often prevent crops from thriving. The center has also dedicated much of its recent research to sustainable, plant-based biofuels.
The center's work has been funded by the
The center was founded through a
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