CFANS starts push for building upgrades

The Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering building is not fit for modern research according to faculty.

The Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Building is in review for remodeling. It was built in 1913 and is one oldest buildings on the Saint Paul campus.

The Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Building is in review for remodeling. It was built in 1913 and is one oldest buildings on the Saint Paul campus.

Kali Dingman

The 99-year-old Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering building is one of the oldest buildings on the St. Paul campus, but administrators in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences say itâÄôs in dire need of renovations.

While University of Minnesota administrators are still pushing for projects like Eddy Hall and the Old Main Utility Building for the 2012 bonding bill, remodeling the inside of the building âÄî and the Engineering and Fisheries Laboratories building connected to it âÄî is the number one priority in CFANSâÄô capital bonding request for 2014.

âÄúWe want to upgrade the facilities to enable the programs to succeed in what they are doing,âÄù said Allen Levine, dean of CFANS.

The classrooms located in the building are small and canâÄôt hold as many students as Shri Ramaswamy, professor and head of the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, wishes they could. Instead of having one large class, the school is forced to hold two classes because of the lack of space.

The materials are also outdated âÄî many of the classrooms still have chalkboards and the hoods in the laboratories are in bad shape.

Ramaswamy said the building is inefficient for the modern scientific research and teaching that is being conducted.

âÄúWeâÄôre not doing the same work as before,âÄù he said. âÄúThe building does not meet the teaching and research needs of today and in the future.âÄù

The building lacks many of the safety precautions that are needed, including fire sprinklers and fire exits. The building also functions without air conditioning, which is important to many of the experiments that are conducted.

If the renovations are approved, the remodeling would take about one and a half to two years to be finished.

âÄúThe building itself is beautiful, historic and old, but lacks a lot of things,âÄù said Greg Cuomo, associate dean of CFANS.

As one of the historic buildings on the St. Paul mall, the building is protected so they can only renovate the inside and canâÄôt tear it down.

The plans need to be approved by the Legislature and would be funded by the state. The college sent the priority to the University and the University sends its list of capital bonding priorities in a request to the Legislature. Legislators and the governor then select the projects and allocate funding to them.

At the moment, it is too early to tell how much the project will cost, Ramaswamy said.

The faculty of the biosystems and bioproducts engineering department has been hoping for the renovations for many years.

âÄúI have been pushing for renovations since I came here in 2005,âÄù Ramaswamy said.

There have been talks among other deans on the St. Paul campus on the importance of the improvements to the building, but no plans have been approved.

âÄúThere are a number of different plans that could be happening. They may approve it or they may not,âÄù Levine said.