Frequently Asked Questions

Quick Facts about ICTB at The Kampong

In 2014, Florida International University created the International Center for Tropical Botany (ICTB) at The Kampong in partnership with the National Tropical Botanical Garden. The purpose is to strengthen botanical research and education — counteracting a trend of diminishing research dollars for plant science, which has resulted in the shuttering of botany programs at many research universities. The creation of ICTB ensures FIU is doing its part, in line with institutions like Harvard and Northwestern University, to train graduate students and make sure there will be no shortage of capable botanists and researchers. Our scientists are addressing environmental challenges including food insecurity, biodiversity loss and climate change as well as researching plants for new medicinal uses. Our goal is to conserve plants and improve lives everywhere.


A new facility for the ICTB will be housed at The Kampong, the historic estate of world-renowned plant explorer Dr. David Fairchild. The Kampong is one of South Florida's original botanical research centers, in operation since Dr. Fairchild purchased the property in 1916. ICTB will continue Dr. Fairchild's work and help preserve his legacy.


FIU plans to construct a new research and education center at The Kampong. Research projects include preserving tree canopies, reducing toxic algal blooms, mitigating sea level threats, improving pollination, combating plant extinction, discovering new species and supporting sustainable farming.

  • Why at The Kampong?

    One of the National Tropical Botanical Garden's five gardens, The Kampong is the only one located in the continental United States. Miami is one of the few cities in the nation with a wet, tropical climate, which makes The Kampong the ideal location for research on tropical plants.

  • Does ICTB research directly benefit Coconut Grove?

    Yes! Our Grove ReLeaf program is mapping and monitoring urban trees and engaging citizens to promote canopy cover in Miami. Our Grove Resilience program is working with local schools to identify native tree species that will help mitigate sea level rise and climate change. Our Tropical Conservation Internship program has trained dozens of students in partnership with eight local environmental organizations. Recently, interns have censused peacock populations for monitoring throughout the Grove.

Being a Good Neighbor

FIU and the International Center for Tropical Botany (value the importance of being a good neighbor. Since 2016, ICTB has hosted more than 35 meetings to discuss plans for the research center and to encourage feedback from neighbors. In response to neighbor recommendations, FIU made more than four dozen requested and voluntary changes to its original proposal. FIU voluntarily proffered a covenant to the City of Miami restricting its own property rights in perpetuity. These restrictions, including lighting, courses offered, and hours of operations, among others, are designed to minimize impacts to traffic and to the quality of life for neighbors.

  • What are the most significant changes FIU has made in response to neighbor feedback?
    • FIU will not apply for or build additional structures for 25 years on the property (with the exception of a greenhouse included in the submitted plans).
    • Several redesigns have been done including moving from one-story to two-story to reduce massing and then reducing the height of the building.
    • The building configuration was moved to front Douglas Road, instead of along residential properties.
    • The building footprint was decreased to 10,050 square feet.
    • The greenhouse size was reduced to 2,100 square feet.
    • Changes to the façade include the use of more aesthetic materials such as oolite.
    • The architectural style was revised to represent traditional vernacular architecture.
    • Lighting plan for the parking area was revised to include wildlife-friendly fixtures such as amber “turtle-free” lights on lowered 10-foot poles with glare protection oriented away from adjacent residences.
    • Green space was increased to 50,448 square feet (65%)
    • A detailed landscape plan was provided with a buffer along neighboring Bayview Road residences.
    • Plans for traffic flow were reduced at peak hours.
    • Natural terrain parking area was decreased, and paved spaces were reduced to 24.
    • The parking configuration was modified to orient drive aisles and parking stalls to avoid vehicular and parking lighting spillover to neighboring residences.
    • Though not required, a construction staging and site utilization plan was provided.

More About the Research Center

  • Is FIU research center building a university campus in Coconut Grove?

    No. FIU is building a research center to add facilities such as labs and meeting space to further its mission of environmental conservation. A limited number of FIU staff members will be based at this location. FIU has no plans to ever change how it uses the research building on this land. There will be no student housing or undergraduate courses taught at the site.

  • What type of graduate courses will be taught here and how many students will use the research center?

    ICTB will host one to two graduate courses per semester with an average of 15 students. Courses will be for graduate and postgraduate level researchers only.

  • Will the new research center bring more events to the area?

    FIU expects programs offered to be consistent with the current schedule of activities at The Kampong. Those activities are anticipated to be about one evening lecture per month and will bring globally recognized scientists to share important botanical research with graduate students, faculty, and neighbors. The lectures will end no later than 8:30 p.m. There will also be a handful of evening and weekend events. There will only be a handful of evening and weekend events. There will only be a handful of evening and weekend events. There will only be a handful of evening and weekend events.

  • Will the new research center be consistent with the look of existing structures?

    Yes; the two-story research and education center will be LEED-certified and is designed to complement other buildings at The Kampong and nearby residences. It will use only 10,050 square feet on the existing grounds. Once construction is complete, the building will be two stories with 13,300 square feet of air-conditioned space for offices and laboratories to store botanical samples.

  • What is being done about the surrounding habitat and landscaping?

    The research center will be a world-class botanical facility, and landscaping will be a primary component of the overall design. This includes removing invasive plants and replacing them with native plants that are aesthetically pleasing and yet consistent with ICTB’s mission of biodiversity conservation and management. The landscape is designed to also reduce impacts on the grounds, buffer noise, provide privacy and assist with traffic flow into and out of the property.

  • Will the tree canopy be increased on the property?

    Yes! The project proposes a new landscape plan, and the tree canopy on the property is expected to expand within three years of completion of the project. FIU will protect native biodiversity by removing a few trees that are listed as invasive weeds and will plant dozens of new native trees and shrubs. FIU is also working with The Friends of The Commodore Trail to improve the areas along Douglas Road with a native wildflower garden adjacent to the restored historic oolite wall FIU has recently completed.

  • Will the new research center impact traffic in the area?

    No. FIU will organize its graduate courses and workshops at non-peak traffic hours in Coconut Grove. Weekend traffic will also be limited due to the small number of events that are thoughtfully scheduled to limit traffic disruption.

  • Will FIU have onsite parking?

    Yes. The property already includes field parking. The research center will include a small, eco-friendly parking area. The area will have limited hours of operation for staff, researchers, and guests. The parking area will be closed to public access and controlled by gate and security code during non-operating hours and weekends.

  • Will the parking lot be eco-friendly to the existing environment?

    Yes. The parking area will incorporate native landscaping on the adjacent site which had been previously used as a field parking lot. Further, the proposed turf pavers are demonstrated to reduce the runoff and soil damage that occurs in unstructured field parking.

  • How will construction impact my ability to access my home?

    Minimally. FIU will not allow construction vehicles to park, stage or obstruct pedestrian and bike paths in front of or at any access point of any properties along Main Highway, Douglas Road or Bayview Road. Construction is expected to be completed within 12-15 months of groundbreaking. Construction hours will be limited to City of Miami times.

  • Will the on-site lighting be limited?

    Yes. Lighting will be turned off by the close of business at 7 p.m. and 30 minutes after scheduled lectures or events end.