Ground Broken for New Ag Engineering Building at Ohio State's OARDC Wooster Campus

The groundbreaking ceremony included (left to right) OARDC Director Steve Slack, CFAES Dean Bruce McPheron, FABE associate chair Harold Keener, Ohio Rep. Ron Amstutz, Wayne County Commissioner Anne Obrecht, and Ohio Sen. Frank LaRose. (Ken Chamberlain)

WOOSTER, Ohio -- A September 2010 tornado took it away. Now, support from elected officials and the state of Ohio will help bring back an even better version of the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering's building on the Wooster campus of Ohio State University's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new building was held Friday, May 10. Attending were university officials, Ohio legislators who represent Wooster and Wayne County, staff from the offices of U.S. senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, and local city and county officials.

OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

"I got tired of looking at the remains of that building every day for about two years," said OARDC Director Steve Slack. "I want to thank the department's leadership and support from the university to help get us to this day. I also want to recognize our partners with the city of Wooster and Wayne County, and I can't say enough about our congressional delegation in Ohio."

Slack also thanked the state of Ohio for its support to help to close a $6 million gap in funding for the new building, thanks to the allocation of emergency funds to this project. Total cost of the building is $14 million, with $3.6 million coming from insurance and the rest from state funds.

"This is a great day," said State Rep. Ron Amstutz, whose 3rd House District includes Wooster and who was instrumental in securing the emergency funds. "I'm delighted to have been a small part of this effort to put together this great asset for our state and the country."

The new structure will be the first "green" building on the Wooster campus, certified "Silver" by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

An architectural rendering shows what the new building will look like.

"This facility represents the best of what Ohio has to offer: our rich agricultural traditions and state-of-the-art technologies for agricultural production and advanced energy," said Ohio Sen. Frank LaRose from the 27th Senate District, which includes Wayne County.

Construction of the building will begin in the summer of 2013 and is expected to be completed by late fall 2014.

"This is not the way you usually want to plan for your facilities," said Bruce McPheron, associate vice president for agricultural administration and dean, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, referring to the tornado and the $30 million in total damages to the OARDC campus.

"But this is a remarkable opportunity for a new start. The research capacity we have here at OARDC is unparalleled, and this is a very important investment for both Ohio State and the agricultural community."



Mauricio Espinoza


Steve Slack

Bruce McPheron