Feature Photo (above): The equine center at Tarleton State University’s Ag Center. The new lab facilities, barn and greenhouse will be built south of the equine center. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Stephenville (Erath County) — At the August 13 session of the Texas A&M University System, the Board of Regents approved the scope and budget for a nearly $10 million repair and modernization of the Agricultural Center at Tarleton State University.
The financial appropriation and approval for construction will set in motion the groundbreaking this week of a new multipurpose facility.
“The original concept developed in the 2017 Ag Center Master Plan envisioned two separate lab facilities, yet early development of the Program of Requirements found significant cost savings by combining these two lab buildings into one lab building with a separate, but adjacent, animal arena and greenhouse,” the Project Justification briefing to the regents stated.
The project was complicated on March 8, 2016, when severe storms and tornadoes passed through Erath County, causing damage to nearly a dozen facilities at the Ag Center. Their repair, upgrade, and in some cases replacement, was taken into account on this capital improvement project.
Arial map of the project site within the Ag Center grounds of Tarleton State University. Courtesy: Texas A&M Univ. System.
Tarleton’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences lacks adequate teaching and lab spaces for several programs.
“This includes, but is not limited to, labs taught in open arenas without appropriate instructional space or conditions, shared labs between other colleges, and inadequate prep and storage space,” the brief stated.
Goals of the modernization project include creating a flexible facility within the lab environments, a covered outdoor area, and a greenhouse to help accommodate shifting needs throughout the semester within individual courses, programs, and across the college.
There will also be prep and research space for support faculty.
The facility will be constructed northwest of the recently completed Agricultural Field Machinery and Fabrication Center along College Farm Road. It will have three main components.
Laboratory Building: a 20,085-square-foot facility with six teaching labs for programs in Genetics, Animal Nutrition, Anatomy & Physiology, Soil Science, Horticulture, and Entomology; two lab prep spaces–one for animal sciences and one for plant sciences; a small space for the sale of goods produced at the Ag Center by students.
Covered Outdoor Animal Area: a large open-sided barn of approximately 44,000 square feet constructed with direct access into and out of the lab building.
Greenhouse Planting: a 7,920-square-foot greenhouse for research, teaching and production.
The total estimated cost of the project is $10.9 million. The amount available for the construction contract is $8,297,000.
The architect/engineer team and construction manager-at-risk were selected in April. Their contracts were executed in May and June, respectively.
The construction schedule calls for work to begin Aug. 31 and reach substantial completion by May 2019.