The University of Florida has announced plans for a new natural resources building on its main campus in Gainesville.
According to a university press release on Monday, the building will house seven programs, including several within the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). It aims to “provide an innovative and collaborative learning environment” by centralizing faculty, staff and students from the seven programs.
“Our vision for this building is to provide opportunity for collaboration and integration not only within these programs, but also with one another,” said Scott Sager, assistant director in the UF/IFAS School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences.
The U.S. Forest Service Wood Innovation Grant Program is funding the initial planning efforts with a $238,564 grant. The grant will fund the concept design of the new building and study whether the university can build it using mass-timber materials.
“This award uniquely positions the University of Florida to be a leader in resilient and ecologically conscious building practices,” Sager said in his statement.
UF is planning the building for the space between the Reitz Union/Constans Theatre and McCarty Hall A.
Christopher and Shawna Meyer of Atelier Mey in Miami are leading the planning and design effort. According to the UF release, Atelier Mey designed and built the first mass-timber structure in Miami-Dade County and specializes in new mass-timber projects.
The UF funding is part of $32 million in similar grants the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in May.
“Wood innovation and community wood grants projects like these show us how we can tackle problems like the wildfire crisis and climate change while creating new markets, supporting jobs, building affordable housing and improving conditions on our forests at the same time,” Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “Removing hazardous trees that would otherwise threaten wildfire-prone communities and having rural, forest-based economies turn those materials into renewable building and energy products, stand as examples of how a clean energy economy is within reach.”