BOONE — Appalachian State leaders last week revealed a few more details about a Conservatory for Biology Research and Education to be constructed as part of the planned Innovation Campus.

The Innovation Campus — referred to as the “Broyhill Innovation District” in Appalachian’s Master Plan 2025 — will be located atop Bodenheimer Drive at the site of the former Broyhill Inn and Conference Center, which was demolished a few years ago.

“The Innovation Promenade forms a spine that connects a multitude of research facilities with gardens and the biological preserve,” according to the master plan, which provides recommendations as a guide for the physical development of campus over the next 20 years.

Development of the campus could include a research building and labs, a high-bay building, academic building, wrapped parking deck, a roundabout and plaza, a connection to the existing biological preserve, research gardens and surface parking, according to the master plan.

Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts told the board of trustees on Sept. 21 that the Conservatory for Biology Research and Education will be the first of the buildings in the Innovation Campus, which will embrace multiple disciplines and cross-campus collaborations.

According to ASU, the conservatory and nearby Nature Preserve Trailhead will advance the natural and cultural history of the Southern Appalachian region, allowing the Appalachian community and visitors to understand the natural history and economic importance of our region’s biodiversity and gain a heightened appreciation of the research and creative endeavors being conducted at ASU.

Students in Appalachian’s College of Arts and Sciences and their faculty mentors will use the conservatory’s state-of-the art research space for basic and applied research. Visitors, including K-12 students and community members, will benefit from the scientific exhibits and demonstrations informed by the research conducted at the facility, ASU said.

According to a schematic design, the 15,000-square-foot facility could potentially include the conservatory, museum and gift shop; classroom and outreach space; teaching and research greenhouse; research labs and incubator space; formal and protected gardens; and outdoor classroom space.

ASU said the project will be funded “internally” and that it has hired architectural engineering firm Clark Nexsen to conduct a feasibility study.

Everts said that College of Arts and Sciences Dean Neva Specht and biology faculty will meet with designers in the coming weeks to develop a concept and vision for the conservatory.

The Watauga Democrat submitted a public records request for documents related to planning of the conservatory project on June 25, but the university has not yet fulfilled the request.

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