There’s something mystical and magical about the University in the local community, and that is evident today, said Interim System President and Chancellor William “Bill” Jenkins at the groundbreaking ceremony for the LSU Hilltop Arboretum on Highland Road on Tuesday.
The LSU Hilltop Arboretum is a University property under the management of the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture “with the intent that it remains a model of the natural landscape and continues its use as an outdoor laboratory,” according to an LSU Hilltop Arboretum groundbreaking ceremony pamphlet.
This will be the first University building certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
LEED is a green building program that reduces waste sent to landfills, conserves energy and water, is safer and healthier for occupants and reduces greenhouse gases, according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s website.
The complex will be named the LSU Hilltop Arboretum Imogene Newsom Brown Education Facility, in honor of Brown, who is now deceased and was the first donor for the new facility.
The building will be 2,050 square feet and contain an auditorium and conference room, which is more than doubling the existing capacity of the current facilities, Jenkins said.
The expected completion date for the facility is Aug. 8, 2013, said Peggy Davis Coates, LSU Hilltop Arboretum executive director.
The education facility will be used by many students, but mainly by landscape architecture students, Coates said.
The facility is currently utilized by the University, and Coates said as a result of the new facility, students will have more of an opportunity to learn about plants and trees.
In addition to the building, an outdoor courtyard will be constructed, Jenkins said.
Coates said students utilizing the facility will be able to notice the building’s LEED certification in every aspect of its design.
“It’s to promote these kinds of values in the community. So we had to be a steward of that, we had to take that and we had to model it,” she said.
The property that LSU Hilltop Arboretum is located on was formerly the property of Emory Smith, a nature enthusiast who collected plants and trees from across the state to decorate his property, Coates said.
Coates said many of the trees present on the property today are Smith’s.
The property was donated to the University in 1981, and plans to build the new facility were 13 years in the making.