Fairchild Garden Breaks Ground on Science Village

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Fairchild Garden Breaks Ground on Science Village 

Coral Gables, FL – December 8, 2010 – Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden will hold its Groundbreaking ceremony for the new state-of-the-art Science Village, Tropical Research Labs, Café and Conservatory, a multi-million dollar science complex designed to nurture future environmental leaders in Miami and encourage a love and appreciation for the natural world. Fairchild is a conservation- and education-based garden and a recognized leader in both Florida and international conservation.

  “The Science Village is one more step in the guided pathway for students in our community to become leaders in conservation science,” said Carl E. Lewis, Ph.D., Director, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. “Through our collaboration with Florida International University, the Science Village strengthens the educational pipeline for students considering careers in science and builds upon Fairchild Garden’s existing environmental educational programs for K-12.”

For the first time onsite at Fairchild, the planned Science Village will showcase the talent and accomplishments of Fairchild’s conservation team, whose scientists are currently housed in an off-site facility a mile south of the Garden.  Fairchild’s five-year vision is to support the Science Village with 10 Ph.D. scientists, 20 Ph.D. students and 40 undergraduate research students.  In addition to nurturing future conservation science leaders, goals include celebrating the diversity, knowledge and capacity for conservation in our own community and the Caribbean and becoming a model for diverse communities throughout the world.

The Science Village will have labs for college and graduate students and full sized, interactive classrooms that will allow for a cross-pollination of education and science, a high priority since the Garden was founded. Fairchild’s collaboration with Florida International University includes several joint staff members including Dr. Javier Francisco-Ortega, a preeminent tropical island biologist, and staff member Dr. Kenneth Feeley, a world expert in climate change. 

Led by Corwill Architects (construction architect) and Max Strang Architecture (design architect), The Science Village complex will feature state-of-the-art laboratories for tropical plant conservation. The important work by Fairchild scientists will also be fully accessible to visitors and students through the designed interactivity of the building. With a total of more than 25,000 square feet, the Science Village complex, which will seek LEED certification, will include a new conservatory that will feature a world-class collection of orchids and butterflies, and the garden’s popular Café will be expanded and will peer into the new conservatory and its menu broadened to include organic and locally grown food.

The undergraduate and graduate course offerings taking place at the Science Village have been specifically developed to piggyback on the successful efforts of the Fairchild Challenge, whose mission is to foster interest in the environment by encouraging students to appreciate the beauty and value of nature, develop critical-thinking skills, understand the need for biodiversity and conservation, tap community resources and become actively engaged citizens. Each year, more than 150 schools and 70,000 students and teachers participate in the Fairchild Challenge in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Although the diversity of the scientific community is increasing, minority students receiving advanced degrees in the agricultural sciences and biological sciences remains low. An important goal of the Science Village is to promote diversity in the environmental movement, providing opportunities for minority students to develop careers in the life sciences.

For over three decades, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has effectively educated and inspired hundreds of thousands of students and members of the community throughout South Florida and the U.S. Fairchild’s education programs provide unique opportunities for students of all ages to learn about the natural world, appreciate the beauty and value of nature, and promote environmental literacy and stewardship.  Using the environment as an integrating concept, Fairchild offers a diversity of programs for students in grades pre-K through 12 that aim to enhance science education through interdisciplinary, inquiry-based learning.  These programs are the result of cooperative efforts, led by seasoned educators on staff and involving input from program volunteers, teachers, students, science and curriculum specialists from Miami-Dade County Public Schools and research and horticulture staff. 

About Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is dedicated to exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants. It is one of the premier conservation and education-based gardens in the world and a recognized international leader in both Florida and international conservation. Currently Fairchild has field programs in over 20 countries including support to protected areas in Madagascar and Africa and botanic garden development and renovation projects in South and Central America, the Caribbean and Middle East. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden houses palm and cycad collections that are nationally recognized by the American Public Gardens Association (APGA), has the world’s greatest living collection of palms and cycads; an education program reaching more than 70,000 school children per year; hosts popular events like the International Chocolate Festival, International Mango Festival and International Orchid Festival, the Edible Garden Festival, the Ramble, concerts, affiliated plant society shows and sales and more; and, is a not-for-profit organization relying on the support of its 45,000 members and benefactors. Fairchild hosts major art events such as Les Lalanne at Fairchild and Yoko Ono’s Wishing Grove this year, Yayoi Kusama at Fairchild last year, Mark di Suvero, Fernando Botero, Dale Chihuly and Kris Martin at Fairchild in 2008, Botero, Lichtenstein and Chihuly at Fairchild in 2007 and Chihuly at Fairchild in 2005 and 2006. Fairchild is located at 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables (Miami), Florida 33156, just a thirty minute drive from South Beach. Admission is $25 for adults, $18 for seniors, $12 for children 6-17 and free to children 5 and under and Fairchild members. For more information, please visit us at www.fairchildgarden.org and on Facebook and Twitter.