Rice Creek Field Station to open in fall

The new home of SUNY Oswego’s Rice Creek Field Station will open for fall-semester classes in late August, and trails will remain open to the public as construction wraps up.

Rice Creek’s faculty and staff, along with its collections totaling 4,500 specimens, will move into the new 7,200-square-foot field station beginning July 8, in preparation for classes starting Aug. 26.

For more than 45 years, Rice Creek Field Station has enabled college and community scientists to carry out field-oriented research and academic instruction, as well as offering hiking and popular programs to educate the general public about natural sciences and the environment.

Lucina Hernandez Laundre, director of Rice Creek and associate professor of biological sciences, said anticipation is building for an October opening ceremony for the new structure, with its wet and dry labs, exhibit and collection spaces and other features — all under a signature sloping roof.

“We will use the summer to unpack and organize our collections, equipment, office supplies and so on,” Hernandez said. “Nevertheless, the grounds will be open, though we won’t offer special events during this time.”

The project ultimately will include a nearby observatory, pavilion, maintenance building and redone entry road.

The main building expands by 3,000 square feet the space SUNY Oswego students and teachers, as well as college and community researchers, will have to work with.

The space includes a large classroom and adjacent 24-seat dry lab, with a movable wall between; a 24-seat wet lab for projects requiring chemical use; a research room and an office for visiting professors; an entrance foyer with a nearly 30-foot ceiling and a bluestone feature wall; built-in display cases; and a mudroom and shower for cleanup after research forays to Rice Creek’s 400 acres.

Allen Bradberry of Facilities Design and Construction, liaison with general contractor Taylor Builders of Rochester on the $5.5 million construction project, said work on the environmentally efficient main structure is on track, the observatory foundation is in place and the pavilion and maintenance building are done.

Roof-mounted solar panels will generate 34 kilowatts of power, offsetting a portion of energy used inside the building. That use will be measured and benchmarked, and students will study the building’s efficiencies as the field station moves into service, he said.

A state-of-the-art heating and cooling system will use variable-volume refrigerant to balance the temperature in rooms whose comfort otherwise would vary.

“You can have heating and cooling going on at the same time,” Bradberry continued.

Modern foam insulation and exterior wood paneling will help shield the building from Oswego’s harsh winters, he added. Light-filtering shades will assist the large, energy-efficient windows that will help open up the field station to its natural surroundings.

Rice Creek is home to four trails spanning 7.5 miles of meadows, forest and wetlands and to species of flora and fauna in these numbers: plants (more than 500 species), birds (90), mammals (39), fish (11), amphibians (18) and reptiles (18).

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