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Cary Institute Embarks on Reimagining of Headquarters

The project will advance science and make building healthier for people and the planet.

Rendering by Becker + Becker

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies will be transforming its Millbrook, NY campus to better advance ecological science. The renewed headquarters will have additional space for research and will be energy-efficient, sustainable, and healthier for people and the planet. The 13 million dollar project, designed by architects Becker + Becker, will be managed by Consigli Construction of Pleasant Valley. When complete, the building will better serve scientific research, meet LEED Platinum standards, and feature state-of-the-art health protections informed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dr. Joshua Ginsberg, Cary Institute President, comments, “Renovations will create the collaboration space needed for 21st century science, while allowing us to thrive in Millbrook for decades to come. Our reimagined headquarters will benefit our 100+ staff, as well as the many students, educators, visiting scientists, local institutions, and guests who are vital to the Cary community. It’s an investment in our future, and a sign of our strong roots in Dutchess County.”

By choosing to renovate, rather than rebuild, Cary Institute will retain much of the building’s original footprint. Erected in the 1970s, it was architecturally-celebrated and cutting edge in energy efficiency for the era. Ginsberg explains, “We inherited a building that was made to last, and constructed with high quality materials. We are reconfiguring the space and updating mechanicals, while retaining the best parts of its architectural design. This includes restoring the building’s original sawtooth roofline, which has been hidden for decades.” 

Sustainability is at the heart of renovation plans. Updates to the building will allow Cary Institute to live its mission by eliminating reliance on fossil fuels and making its operations highly energy efficient. Forest Stewardship Certified wood and wood products, and recycled materials, will be used during renovations. Cary Institute is working closely with Consigli to subcontract to local vendors, ensuring the project contributes to Dutchess County's recovery from COVID-19. 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the building designs have been updated to ensure the wellness of all who enter. This includes updates to air handling systems, interior design, and conference room capacity, as well as touchless features, such as lighting, doors, and faucets. All will contribute to a healthier indoor environment. 

Why execute a major renovation in the middle of a pandemic? Ginsberg explains, “Cary staff are currently working from home, or have established workspaces elsewhere on campus to adhere to social distancing recommendations. This means we can undertake the renovation of our headquarters with minimal further disruptions to our science. When it is safe to return to working and meeting in-person, we will come back to a renewed building outfitted with modern health and safety features, and built according to best sustainability practices.”

With $11 million secured or raised, Cary Institute is launching the Campaign for Cary to raise the remaining $2 million. Demolition and construction is planned to begin after Labor Day. During the construction phase, Cary Institute’s trails and grounds will remain open to the public during regular hours. The only interruption may be to the trailhead located in the headquarters parking lot. 

This project follows the successful completion of the Sir Patrick Bateson FRS Conference Center, designed by Slade Architecture. The conference center will also be updated with improved air handling and to protect the health and wellbeing of all who visit. Cary Institute remains committed to sharing our convening spaces with local and likeminded groups. 

We are excited for the next chapter in Cary Institute’s history. All are invited to learn more about the headquarters renovation by viewing a virtual update. In it, Cary President Dr. Joshua Ginsberg provides a project overview, including a video fly-through and building renderings.