Department Facilities

Biodiversity

The Arthur Ross Greenhouse

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 that each room could 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 3,400 square feet with more than 2,100 square feet under glass.

Visiting Hours: Wednesdays 1 - 3 pm

For groups wishing to visit the Arthur Ross Greenhouse, please fill out an application and submit it to the Greenhouse Coordinator, Nicholas Gershberg.


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Biodiversity

The Sibyl-Levy Golden ('38) Ecological Learning Center

Topping The Diana Center is a green roof that in late summer is abuzz with pollinators (including our very own Jon Snow's honeybees!) that are visiting the roof's Pollinator Garden ⁠— home to beds of black-eyed Susans, deer-tongue grass, sky blue asters, and goldenrod. Plant life mainly from the Hempstead Plains plant community on Long Island and the Rocky Summit plant community in the Hudson Valley can also be found on this space as these grasses are used to growing under the types of harsh conditions that can exist for life on a New York City rooftop.

This garden space above Barnard's Diana Center was named the Sibyl Levy Golden ’38 Ecological Learning Center, thanks to her daughter’s thoughtful memorial to a woman whose passion for nature was well known and passed on to her. Committed to ecologic studies, Sibyl R. Golden says, “This green roof is a place of scientific investigation for both students and teachers. It provides a unique opportunity for students to do ecology field work directly on campus.” Visitors to the green roof, which parallels Broadway, can also enjoy the stunning views of both the Barnard and Columbia campuses.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-Gold certified Diana Center was built with this green roof on top in order to help extend the life of the roofing membrane, to provide energy savings through the reduction of heat transfer through the roof, to limit rainwater surges destined for the overburdened sewer system, and to create valuable public green space on campus. Importantly, the green roof also provides Barnard students with a unique place to conduct ecological studies and experiments. Both environmental studies and biology students can use these facilities to conduct independent research projects as part of their senior theses.

Hilary Callahan, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Biology and director of the Arthur Ross Greenhouse, is co-director of the green roof along with her colleague Martin Stute, Professor of Environmental Science.


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