CORVALLIS - Two of the largest, most significant construction projects in Oregon State University history - a comprehensive research library and a forestry research laboratory - are nearing completion after years of planning and construction.

Built for a combined total of nearly $70 million, the two state-of-the-art facilities will be unveiled to the public during special ceremonies on Thursday and Friday, May 27-28.

On Thursday, May 27, OSU will dedicate Richardson Hall, a $26.3 million, 97,000-square foot building that will greatly enhance the College of Forestry's research and teaching capabilities. The dedication will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the north courtyard of the building, located just west of Peavy Hall on Jefferson Way. Self-guided tours of the building will follow the dedication.

On Friday, the university will dedicate The Valley Library, the $40 million-plus facility that is being called a model library for the 21st century. The dedication ceremony will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the Kelley Courtyard Plaza, followed by self-guided tours of the library. It is located on Jefferson Way, just west of the main campus entrance.

Both dedication ceremonies, and tours, are free and open to the public.

"These are two magnificent buildings that symbolize the top tier teaching and research strengths of Oregon State University," said OSU President Paul Risser. "They will allow our students to learn in ways never before available; they will enable our faculty to more effectively pursue scholarly interests and conduct research that is critical to Oregon's - and indeed, the world's - livelihood; and they will enefit a variety of Oregonians in innumerable ways."

At 343,000 square-feet, The Valley Library is a combination of new construction and the renovation of the old Kerr Library. The massive project, which began 31 months ago, has doubled the size of the old six-story structure. But the changes go well beyond size, according to Karyle Butcher, the Donald and Delpha Campbell University Librarian.

"The new facility has much, much more access to electronic information and the resources to help faculty and staff do their work," Butcher said. "There also is a greater opportunity for collaborative study, for group learning. And there is an intangible benefit for campus and the community; the building has become a showcase for public art on campus.

"This is really only the beginning," Butcher pointed out. "We now have the space to add more collections and more access to information. We were unable to even think about such growth in the old building."

Richardson Hall will provide similar benefits for the College of Forestry. Not only will the new building double the lab space for the college, but its modern new laboratories and classrooms should allow faculty to take on new research initiatives vital to the Pacific Northwest, said George Brown, dean of the College of Forestry.

"The old Forest Research Laboratory was built 43 years ago, and it was outmoded, overcrowded and no longer met the needs for the kinds of sophisticated research we now do in forestry," Brown said. "Richardson Hall has some new, state-of-the-art features, including a quarantine facility for studying insect pests, a secure rooftop greenhouse for transgenic plants, a moisture- and temperature-controlled environmental room for testing wood samples, and a 'reaction floor' for testing the strength and design of laminated beams and wood assemblies.

"There is a greater emphasis on sustainability in forestry today, and these new research capabilities will allow us to focus on increasing the productivity of our forest land base, and better serving the needs of Oregonians," he added.

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Karyle Butcher, 541-737-7300