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UGA-Tifton honored with prestigious Georgia Trust award

By for CAES News

The restoration of two landmarks on the University of Georgia Tifton campus earned recognition from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

UGA-Tifton, along with the UGA Office of University Architects, Menefee Architecture and Allstate Construction, were recognized with the 2019 Excellence in Rehabilitation award by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation for the renovation of the Tift Building and Agricultural Research Building (ARB), iconic campus buildings that were part of the original Coastal Plain Experiment Station.

“For many years, these beautiful buildings were underutilized and essentially mothballed,” said Sam Pardue, dean of UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Now the newly restored buildings are the centerpiece of our campus in Tifton, providing much-needed, updated space for our scientists to work. We are exceptionally proud of the attention to detail and careful preservation of the original character that make these historic buildings special.”

Mirroring the mission of Georgia Trust — to preserve and enhance Georgia’s communities and their diverse historic resources — Joe West was committed to restoring these two structures when he became assistant dean of UGA-Tifton in 2008. The Tift Building and ARB had been abandoned and sat vacant for several years.

“It’s one of two things; you fix them or they eventually have to be torn down. The condition of the buildings really did not reflect the values or image of the University of Georgia,” West said. “We persevered and we’re very proud of the result.”

Plans for reclaiming the Tift Building were put on hold largely due to the U.S. economic recession that began in 2008. While the state of the economy didn’t allow the project to move forward at the time, it was only delayed temporarily. As the economy recovered, the Georgia General Assembly funded the $5 million project, which was completed in 2016. Compared to the cost of demolition and reconstruction, the Tift Building renovations were very cost effective, according to West.

The Tift Building houses the assistant dean’s office, business office, UGA Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and support units for the campus. It also contains modern classroom space equipped with the latest in learning technology for faculty and students.

The ARB project also received $5 million from the Georgia General Assembly and was restored in 2018. Built in 1937, it was known for years as the Animal and Dairy Science Building. It now houses the departments of animal and dairy science and entomology. High-efficiency LED lighting, extensive fiber-optic cable and wireless internet capabilities make ARB a prime location for research and education.

“The renovations have exceeded even our highest expectations. When you undertake a major renovation you expect challenges, financially and otherwise,” West said. “Our team did an excellent job dealing with unexpected challenges, was fiscally responsible and gave us these wonderful results. They’re everything we dreamed they would be.”

The restoration of the Tift Building and ARB were completed in time for celebrations marking UGA-Tifton’s centennial this year. On May 3, the campus will host events throughout the day to commemorate its addition to the Tifton, Georgia, community 100 years ago.

For more information about UGA-Tifton, see tifton.caes.uga.edu.

Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.
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