Auburn Board of Trustees approves Mell Street site for major new classroom building

Published: September 08, 2014
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The first of two Auburn University classroom buildings built from the ground up for a 21st century learning environment will be constructed on the Mell Street side of Draughon Library.

The University Board of Trustees approved the site on Sept. 5 for a 69,000-square-foot building that will provide specially designed technology-adaptive classrooms, lecture halls, team-learning space and collaborative areas. The board authorized the administration to complete plans for the building, solicit bids and award a contract.

The new classroom facility will connect to the east side of Draughon Library, which would continue to have its main entrance on the Mell Street side, said Dan King, assistant vice president for facilities.

Designated the “Mell Classroom Building,” the new classroom facility is being designed to provide approximately 40 percent of the total new state-of-the-art classroom space, helping to meet a goal cited in the university’s strategic plan for 2013-18. King said construction could start next summer and the building could be available for use in the 2016 or 2017 academic year.

Under current projections, the $25 million project will be financed with unrestricted university funds rather than a bond issue.

When the Mell Street building is complete, the university will be able to proceed with the second phase of new classroom construction, King said. That phase will include demolition of Allison and Parker halls on the eastern edge of the Sciences and Mathematics quadrant of campus and construction of the Academic Success Complex site in that area.

Plans call for the Academic Success Complex to be constructed in two parts. The first will be a building similar to the Mell Street facility to meet the remaining 60 percent of the university’s projected classroom and learning space needs. The second building in the complex will include a laboratory facility for chemistry, biology, physics and other courses.

On a related matter, the board authorized structural repairs and major renovation of Cater Hall as the university prepares for the 100th anniversary of the historic building. That project is projected to cost approximately $1 million or more.