UW Madison Plant Facility History

1950-1951 – First greenhouses at Walnut Street are constructed.  These houses had about 6,000 sq. ft. of bench space.  They were state-of-the-art, for the time they were built in.  These were redwood framed structures.

1960’s – Aluminum and galvanized steel houses added on to the original Walnut Street structure.  This added another 6,000 sq. ft. of bench space to the facility.

1992 – an all-campus faculty committee reviews the plant growth facilities at the UW.  They conclude that major renovations are needed, since the existing facilities are outmoded and deteriorating by this time.

1995 – more than 25% of the research greenhouse space on campus is destroyed in order to build an addition to the Biochemistry facility.

1996 – DC Smith greenhouse built.  It has won several architectural and design awards, and serves primarily undergraduate courses.  The facility houses a teaching collection, and also has a conservatory.  It is open to the public.

1996 – 6,360 assignable square feet of containment and specialized greenhouses added to the Biotron facility

2004/2005 – Phase I construction at the Walnut Street Greenhouse

The outdated facilities at Walnut Street are partially demolished and replaced with four new modules.  These modules comprise a total of 32 individual growing spaces.  The new greenhouses include modern computer environmental controls, proper wastewater discharge, and individual access to rooms through a main corridor.  These safety, sanitation and precision features were lacking in the outdated facilities.

2006 – Botany greenhouse renovation.  The botany greenhouse was updated and expanded; within 8000 square feet under glass, more than 1000 unique species are maintained.  This facility serves as an educational space for both students and members of the community.

2011-2013 – Phase II construction stalled.  This plan, with a budget of 11.0 million dollars, sought to add five new greenhouse modules (40 units.)  These would have replaced the other 40 outdated greenhouses that currently exist, though they would not follow the same footprint of the existing houses.  One major motivation for the timing and relocation on this replacement is the fact that the neighboring power plant facility will also be building out an addition.  This addition is anticipated to severely shade the current greenhouses.  Other motivating factors include the heavy usage of the greenhouse, especially in winter months.

To accommodate the displaced research during construction, additional units will have to be built at the West Madison facility.  These units will be similar to the two large open-span houses that already exist on that site. This space has been proposed under the Agriculture Research Stations’ Master Plan capital project, for the 2009-2011 biennium.

2015 – Phase II construction talks begin again, and we anticipate the construction of new research greenhouse space, within a 4-5 year timeframe.