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Pencil rendering of the new Subtropical Horticulture Research Station building in Florida
Pencil rendering of the new Subtropical Horticulture Research Station building in Florida.

Groundbreaking for New Horticultural Research Facility

By Alfredo Flores
December 16, 2003

MIAMI, Fla., Dec. 16, 2003--The U.S. Department of Agriculture broke ground at 10 a.m. today for a new state-of-the-art facility for the Subtropical Horticulture Research Station (SHRS) operated here by the Agricultural Research Service, USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency. The new building will replace a number of smaller, outdated buildings used by SHRS at Chapman Field, a former military base. The $6.8 million funding for the new facility came from the Hurricane Andrew relief fund as a result of extensive damage done to SHRS by Andrew in 1992.

The new facility, located south of Coral Gables and adjacent to Deering Bay in Metro Dade County, Fla., is scheduled to open in June 2005. The station's mission is to conduct and support environmentally sound research on tropical and subtropical crops. SHRS research activities include collecting, evaluating and developing improved commercial plants, and developing methods for managing exotic insect pests.

The new laboratory building will house agronomy, chemistry, entomology, hydro-physics, molecular genetics and tissue culture laboratories, as well as a library, conference rooms and general administrative space. The building will be constructed primarily of reinforced concrete, with both its structure and roof designed to withstand hurricane-strength winds.

The SHRS site encompasses approximately 197 acres--primarily fields and test plots dedicated to horticultural research--and more than 40 structures. In addition to construction of the new building, the project will also include renovations to an existing laboratory building. The new two-story building will provide 16,383 square feet of space per floor.