Rebuilt CSU equine center thriving after fire

CS Equine CenterClinicians at Colorado State University’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory, which reopened in March after it was destroyed in a 2011 fire, wasted no time in getting back to work even as construction continued around them. “Literally the day we moved into the facility, we were examining mares,” said veterinarian and facility director Jerry Black. The new space, bigger and filled with state-of-the-art equipment, is central to the effort to develop an Equine Institute at the school. The Coloradoan (Fort Collins, Colo.) (tiered subscription model)

It burned into the ground only to be reborn from the ashes — a home to new life.

After it was demolished by an early morning fire in July 2011, Colorado State University’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory was rebuilt in its former place at the Foothills Campus in west Fort Collins. Just days after final inspections, the now-larger and updated facility opened to eagerly awaiting employees and clients in early March.

“Literally the day we moved into the facility, we were examining mares,” said Jerry Black, appointed the new lab director at the year’s start. Black, a veterinarian and associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences, also kept his title as director of CSU’s undergraduate equine sciences program.

As construction got under way, CSU continued providing services in temporary Equine Reproduction Laboratory buildings scattered among barns and other facilities unharmed by the fire. And while work never stopped, Black and others are excited for what came next.

“With the tragedy came an opportunity,” he said Wednesday, sitting in a new office that still smelled of fresh paint. The fire, which burned an estimated $12 million in real estate, research equipment and genetic material stored for clients, is counted among the most costly and damaging disasters in CSU history.

The rebuilt facility is “considerably” larger than its predecessor at 12,000 square feet and brings together several long-separated services. Traffic flow is much improved, Black said, with mare and stallion services kept apart for the safety of both horses and humans.

Still in the works is an equine molecular reproduction lab — what Black said will be “one of the only” labs of its type in the country. There users will manipulate high-tech equipment to identify in mere hours potentially harmful bacterial organisms growing in a mare’s uterus; compare this to common practice of growing cultures over two to three weeks.

There’s also more teaching space and places for professors and visiting professionals to conduct research, said Black, opening doors to rooms in which still-covered microscopes and boxed monitors lay unopened on countertops and tables. Down the hall, interns, professors and resident veterinarians were gathered around a microscope and screen that displayed fluid flushed from a mare next door.

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