View of the main lobby, including the entrance to Bucky’s Varsity Meats and donor wall at the Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery Building. Photo: Michael P. King

On Friday, the CALS community gathered online to celebrate campus’ new Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery building. The event was entirely virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the excitement, anticipation and comradery were felt across campus and throughout Wisconsin.

At noon, a celebration website went live with a burst of confetti raining down on the screen and an invitation to join the celebration. As the page opened, visitors saw pre-recorded video messages along with interior photos of the building, profiles of new faculty and staff and more. As of Monday morning, more than 500 people have visited the celebration website.

This digitally-rendered composite panorama shows the atrium of the Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery Building. Photo illustration: Michael P. King

Video messages came from CALS, UW and state leaders. They recognized the building, the faculty and staff who work there, and the relationship between the university and the state.

“The research, learning and innovation that will happen here at the Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery building will benefit students, consumers and Wisconsin’s agriculture industry now and into the future,” said Tony Evers, Wisconsin Governor.

Randy Romanski, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary-designee, and State Senator Howard Marklein shared similar sentiments highlighting the importance of continued research and education to the agricultural community and meat industry.

One of two lecture halls at the Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery Building. Photo: Michael P. King

In her message, UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank focused on the ideas and projects the new building would encourage. “This facility is so much more than a building,” she said. “It’s an ecosystem for collaboration that’s going to bring together researchers from many different fields. In partnership with industry, this building will help us develop new technologies, solve problems that industry partners bring to us.”

Website visitors were able to see the new building in detail through a series of interior photos. The thorough planning and attention to detail that went into the various spaces could be seen in photos of the public spaces, the labs and classrooms, Bucky’s Varsity Meats retail store, the processing plant and the Biosafety Level 2 facility.

While visiting Bucky’s Varsity Meats in person will have to wait, a video with Mitch Monson, the store’s manager offered a sense of this one-of-a-kind retail space and the types of products they offer. Many of those products are available now through curbside pickup.

Bucky’s Varsity Meats retail store at the Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery Building. Photo by Michael P. King

In addition to Monson, visitors to the site met other new faculty and staff through short biographies. Two new assistant professors, Wei Guo and Vanessa Leone, offered their thoughts and excitement for the building and program through video interviews. “The innovative design of the building allows us to solve real-world problems facing the meat industry today,” said Leone. “This facility has the capacity to draw people from all over the world to our institution and the state.” Adds Guo, “The modern equipment and instruments in this building will really enhance our scientific capabilities.”

The festivities continued elsewhere online as staff, faculty and friends used the hashtag #MeatOurNewBuilding to join the fun. A playlist of curated, meat-inspired songs set the mood for the entire day.

If you weren’t able to tune in on Friday, don’t worry. The celebration site is still up, and you can still see videos, check out photos and listen to meat-themed songs at Faculty and staff now begin their work in the new facility, and look forward to the future when everyone can visit to learn even more about this state-of-the-art facility.

Completed building plaque in the entrance of the Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery Building. Photo: Michael P. King