Growth at Auburn University to bring new learning and dining spaces to central campus

Published: May 15, 2019
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Auburn University is taking its student experience to new levels with the addition of campus facilities ranging from a world-class culinary science center to an engineering structures lab to a central dining hall and classroom building. Construction for these projects will begin this summer and signify a $240 million investment in Auburn’s future.

Opening on campus in 2019 are several buildings that will enhance the student experience, including the Leach Science Center Addition, the Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center, the Gogue Performing Arts Center and the Graduate Business Building.

It all adds up to an exciting and busy time at Auburn this summer.

“Summer is an important time for our campus as we work to initiate or complete several capital projects that will add considerable value to our students’ academic experience,” said Bill Hardgrave, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “The signs of construction symbolize our investment in elevating teaching and learning and demonstrate our commitment to fostering a world-class research environment.”

Much of that campus growth will begin during the summer semester when the area surrounding Parker Hall and Allison Laboratory will be fenced off to begin construction of the Academic Classroom and Laboratory Complex, or ACLC, and the Central Dining Hall.

With 58,071 square feet of learning space, the ACLC will become the second largest instructional space on campus, second to Haley Center. The complex will include a 2,000 student seating capacity, six Engaged Active Student Learning, or EASL, classrooms, five lecture halls ranging from 100 to 300 seats and 20 adaptable classrooms and laboratories.

“The ACLC is the big sister of the Mell Classroom Building,” said Dan King, associate vice president of Facilities Management. “ACLC is the large building, totaling more than 150,000 square feet, which is more than twice the size of the Mell Classroom Building.”

Construction of a Central Dining Hall, located adjacent to the ACLC, will begin this summer. Both projects are expected to be complete in time for the fall 2021 semester. A highly requested addition by students, the Central Dining Hall will include 800 seats, six food stations, two commercial dining venues and four flexible meeting spaces.

“Completion of these facilities will create an innovative learning and dining environment for our students and faculty,” King said.

Other projects beginning in 2019 include the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, the Advanced Structural Testing Laboratory, the Jane B. Moore Softball Complex Player Building, the Plainsman Park Player Development Building and the Northeast Campus Utility Expansion.

The $22 million Advanced Structural Testing Laboratory will position Auburn as the Southeast’s leader in structural engineering research and instruction.

The 41,500-square-foot facility will include a high bay laboratory with specially engineered floors and walls capable of handling extreme structural testing loads; a geotechnical test chamber; a concrete materials research and testing laboratory; a wind testing facility and faculty and graduate student spaces.

The 4,700-cubic-foot geotechnical test chamber is a unique feature — one of the few across the nation included in a university laboratory. It will allow students and faculty to conduct testing that has only been possible in the field until now on structures such as foundations, anchorages and towers. In addition, the wind testing facility will allow replication of the dynamic wind loads induced by hurricanes, tornadoes and other extreme wind events on large-scale specimens. These unique features, and many more, will accelerate research aimed at reducing the impacts during extreme events, and increase lifespan and safety of structures under all loading conditions.

“Auburn is at the forefront of engineering education, and by providing our students opportunities for experiential learning, we’re ensuring our graduates emerge as industry leaders,” said Auburn University President Steven Leath. “This outstanding facility enables our researchers to deliver innovative solutions to pressing industry demands — something Auburn does best.”

In recent years, Auburn’s campus growth has reported impressive numbers. Since 2018, $131 million in capital projects have been completed for a total of 277,000 square feet in additions and renovations to campus. Another 820,000 square feet of capital projects are currently under construction. The Auburn University Board of Trustees has approved $246.3 million in capital projects still to be constructed on campus, making up 410,000 square feet of growth on campus. For up-to-date information on all of Auburn’s major projects, go to Auburn’s Major Construction Projects webpage.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.