Valley Life Sciences Building

The Valley Life Sciences Building (VLSB) was one of four building projects (Life Sciences Building, Life Sciences Addition, Genetics & Plant Biology Building, North West Animal Facility) undertaken to revitalize the biological sciences on the UC Berkeley Campus.

The VLSB was the most ambitious, in that a building that was constructed in 1930, and at that time was considered to be state-of-the-art, was completely gutted and reconstructed on the interior. The renovation took approximately 5 years to complete, at a cost of over $100M (compared to the original construction cost in 1930, of $1.8M).

These building projects were undertaken at the same time as a reorganization of the biological sciences that eliminated 11 traditional departments, e.g., Botany, Biochemistry, Genetics, Zoology, and formed three new departments: Integrative Biology, Molecular & Cell Biology, and Plant Biology.

Funding for the VLSB project was split between the state (2/3) and private funds (1/3). Many generous gifts from foundations, corporations and private individuals made the renovation project happen. Many of the donors are recognized in the naming of rooms, suites, or floors throughout the building, with a major gift from the Valley Foundation providing the name for the building.

Much of the original central courtyard of the LSB was filled in to add 67,000 sq. ft. to the building, for a total of 408,500 gross square feet, of which 269,500 sq. ft. is assignable space. The building houses the following units and support facilities:

  • Museum of Paleontology - 1st floor west. The Museum's enormous collections, c. 20,000,000 specimens, are ranked 4th in America in size, and include protists, plants, invertebrates and vertebrates.
  • Museum of Vertebrate Zoology - 3rd floor west. Home to a collection of c. 800,000 specimens of mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles.
  • University & Jepson Herbaria - 1st floor east. With a current combined total of c. 1,800,000 accessioned specimens, the University Herbarium (UC) and Jepson Herbarium (JEPS) represent the largest collection of herbarium material west of the Missouri Botanical Garden and the largest at a public university in the United States.
  • Marian A Koshland Bioscience & Natural Resources Library - 2nd floor west. A collection of over 450,000 volumes including a Macintosh and PC lab for student use and workstations for on-line library research.
  • Department of Integrative Biology - 3rd floor east. Department office.
  • 47 Research laboratories and support space for faculty from the departments of Integrative Biology, Human Biodynamics; Environmental Science Policy &; Management, Anthropology and Nutritional Sciences.
  • Instructional laboratories and support space for the departments of Integrative Biology and Molecular & Cell Biology. Instructional displays, including the 40' high T. Rex which is a cast of a skeleton excavated in 1990 and now in the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. A cast of a Pterannodon, a flying Pterosaur of the Cretaceaous Period is also located in the Wallace Atrium. Other displays include a genuine Triceratops skull in the front of the library, the Golub Microscope Display in the Onderdonk Lobby (east); and numerous displays outside the museums in the public spaces. The museums and herbaria are research only and not public museums.
  • Shared instructional & research centers, including Animal Behavior (invertebrates and fish), Insect Research, Aquarium Rooms and the Scientific Visualization Center (BioAAPES).
  • General instructional and research support facilities, including: environmental control rooms, darkrooms, instrument rooms, plant growth chamber facilities, glass wash/media prep., greenhouse, ponds, aquarium rooms, conference rooms.
  • Nine general assignment classrooms, including the Chan Shun Auditorium which seats 429 and two smaller auditoria seating 160. These rooms are scheduled through the Office of the Registar. Use of the Onderdonk Lobby and the Wallace Atrium for catered events or receptions, including other public areas requires prior approval of the building management.
  • Administrative support suites; stockroom; mechanical, electrical, and carpentry shops.