Cal Poly broke ground on the new Plant Conservatory that will house more than 1,000 plants that once grew at the old conservatory that was demolished to make room for the William and Linda Frost Center for Research and Innovation.
Since construction of the new building began, the plants have been housed in a make-shift conservatory located at the Soil Science Greenhouse near the Cal Poly arboretum. However, recent agricultural and environmental plant sciences graduate and Plant Conservatory curator Gage Willey said the conditions of the temporary space are not optimal for growth.
“A lot of the plants here, like the desert plants, haven’t been able to grow to their full potential,” Willey said.
The current plant conservatory has a wide variety of plants which means that the plants are often fighting each other for space to grow, Wiley said. However, this will not be the case in the new conservatory, he added.
The new building is built on years of passion from the plant science and biology department, according to Willey. The combined efforts of both faculty and students helped acquire the funds and land to build what Willey said he expects to be a new hub of learning on campus.
“I am so excited, you have no idea how cool this place is going to be for plant people and just for normal students in general,” Willey said.
The planned conservatory will have five new rooms for the plants to be housed, with various areas inside and outside planned for the students to study and labs to be held. The building will then be surrounded by a plant wall donated by Cal Poly alumnus David Brenner.
It is set to be finished by Fall 2020 just in time for the incoming freshman to experience what Willey said he hopes to be a “plant renaissance.”
“When students have a chance to be around these plants, there is this real sense of improvement in how they study that I don’t think you can really find anywhere else,” Willey said.
The facility will also feature collaborations with other academic departments including the College of Graphic Design.
“This has been more about the students more than anything else,” biological sciences professor Matt Ritter said.
Both Willey and Ritter said they hope that the new conservatory brings years of studying and inspiration to the next several generations at Cal Poly.
“This is going to be a place of plant visibility,” Willey said, “Hopefully it will cure that human disease knows as plant blindness.”