Dr. Greg Mueller, vice president of science and academic affairs for the botanic garden, speaks with ABC7 Chicago.
GLENCOE, Ill. -With a bold goal to "Save the Plants, Save the Planet," the Chicago Botanic Garden has scheduled the opening of the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center for September 23, 2009. The 38,000-square-foot building will serve as a laboratory and research facility for the Garden's staff of 31 full-time scientists and research assistants. With interns, graduate students, research associates and collaborators also using the facility, nearly 200 plant scientists will provide leadership on solutions for plant conservation problems caused by climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species and pollution.
"One-third of the world's plants could become extinct in the next 50 years. This is more than a building; it represents the Garden's commitment to solving plant conservation challenges through research and education. We depend on plants for food, clothing, shelter, fuel, medicine and oxygen," said Sophia Siskel, president and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden.
The Plant Science Center will feature dedicated teaching facilities and house the country's first-ever doctoral program that focuses exclusively on plant biology and conservation, offered in partnership with Northwestern University. The first Ph.D. students have been accepted and will begin in fall 2009.
The building is designed to earn a gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Situated on 4.5-foot pillars, the building is surrounded by and built over a Rainwater Glen that will collect and filter stormwater runoff from the building and adjacent parking areas. A 16,000-square-foot green roof garden tops off the building. Inside, a visitor gallery is designed to provide Garden visitors with an insider's view of the work of garden scientists. Interactive exhibit stations will line the viewing gallery, engaging visitors in the fascinating and diverse world of plants and inspiring them to get involved with plant conservation. Many of the exhibits explain the critical work scientists are carrying out in the adjacent nine research laboratories that are visible from the gallery.