Last week, Cannon Design joined leaders from the University of Missouri (MU), the State and the surrounding community for a topping off ceremony for the new East Campus Plant Growth Complex. Speakers included the new MU system president, a board curator, the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and Dr. Robert Sharp, the director of the world-renowned MU Interdisciplinary Plant Group (IPG).

The mission of the IPG is to facilitate research collaborations across multiple colleges at MU including Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Arts and Science, Engineering, the School of Medicine, as well as other leading research institutions such as Washington University and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

The aim of the IPG’s plant science research is to address the grand challenges of increasing global production yields for food, optimizing alternative energy sources, and improving health and wellbeing of all the world’s inhabitants. These challenges require collaborative, interdisciplinary research teams supported by facilities that can adapt to, and control a wide range of environmental variables.

In support of this effort, Cannon Design partnered with the University of Missouri to plan, program and design a $28.2 million, 56,000 sf state-of-the-art plant growth research facility. This new research facility, the first of a multi-phased master plan, includes 24 greenhouse compartments, research labs, seed storage and support spaces for potting and the processing of seeds. Some of the greenhouse modules will have a plant growth height of up to 21’6”, which will be the tallest on the MU campus. The facility also accommodates 12,000 sf of growth chambers, with controlled lighting, temperature, humidity and CO2 environments. These spaces can be calibrated to simulate a vast range of growing environments found well beyond the borders of Missouri.

The building design uses the greenhouse gable roof form and scale to modernize and emulate the machine-like aspects of this facility. The main planting and soil work area is an almost 400’ long single-story bar, and the greenhouses and plant growth chamber branch off this spine. Three large bay windows and a glass entry allow science to be on display along the campus boulevard. The gable roof gives volume on the interior and lets natural light deep into the space. A modular planning strategy was employed to ensure flexibility, allowing areas to be shared or reallocated with changes in grant requirements or program characteristics. The facility is set to open in April 2019.