The Arthur Ross Greenhouse, dedicated on October 8, 1998, is a state-of-the-art plant growth facility built on the roof of Milbank Hall for Barnard's Department of Biological Sciences. It replaces and occupies the site of a greenhouse built in 1928 for Edmund W. Sinnott who taught at Barnard from 1928 to 1940 and went on to become the Sterling Professor of Botany at Yale. He performed his classic studies on the developmental genetics of squash in the Barnard greenhouse. Although the greenhouse was actively used for research and teaching by both faculty and students, as time went by, its antiquated heating, plumbing and ventilation systems and deteriorating equipment and structure greatly limited its utility.
The new facility has a custom-designed aluminum and glass shell and fully computerized heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting and watering systems to provide independent, automatic climate control. Space was reconfigured to provide a central corridor so each room can be entered independently, a more accessible staircase and, for the first time, a small passenger elevator to provide access for the disabled and to facilitate transport of plants and supplies. Both staircase and elevator open directly into the greenhouse complex.
There is a central "peaked" room that acts as a general public space and conservatory, housing the teaching collection. The conservatory is flanked by two pairs of research bays that provide dedicated space for specialized research. Opposite the growing spaces are an office for the greenhouse coordinator, and a potting shed. The complex occupies about 3400 square feet with more than 2100 square feet under glass.