University of Vermont Jeffords Hall Plant Sciences Building

“I used to dream about teaching in labs like these.”

- Donald C. Foss, Ph.D. Professor of Animal Sciences Emeritus College of Agriculture and Life Sciences University of Vermont

Jeffords Hall Plant Sciences Building

University of Vermont

Burlington, Vermont

100,000 gsf



Jeffords Hall is designed to provide an improved learning and research environment that fosters interdisciplinary interaction and exchange between two departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: the Department of Plant and Soil Science and the Department of Plant Biology. Ellenzweig provided programming, architectural design, and laboratory planning and design services.


The faculty and scientists with whom we worked throughout the programming and design phases desired a facility that in its physical form—including the surrounding landscape—would promote the mission of their teaching and research. The south façade, which fronts Burlington’s Main Street, supports a “green wall” of kiwi vine, establishing an identity for the building on the campus as well as within the larger Burlington community. Edible gardens reflect an urban agriculture theme, with annual planting beds on the west side of the building. An arboretum on the northeast side of the building is irrigated with water collected from the building’s roof. The landscape is an outdoor laboratory for hands-on curriculum, internships, new summer offerings, and research projects.


Flexible teaching laboratories and seminar rooms are included in the program, along with three 48-person classrooms available for campus-wide use. Social spaces include break rooms, conference and interaction spaces for faculty and students, and a generous public lobby for special events and social gatherings. A departmental “home” for students, which includes lounge and activity areas as well as a computing center, is provided on the ground floor near the teaching spaces.


New laboratories and support facilities accommodate a variety of faculty research initiatives, while also allowing experiential learning by undergraduate students. Generic, modular research labs create an open lab environment; a “flex” module allows future expansion. Laboratory floors are organized around a “neighborhood” concept, with labs and offices for faculty and graduate students clustered to enhance research synergies and collaboration. Growth chambers, potting rooms, and mechanical spaces are located in the basement, one-half of which is shelled for future use.


The building is registered for LEED Gold certification.


Ellenzweig served as Design Architect and Lab Planner, working with Freeman French Freeman, Architect of Record.