Several facility updates coming to Auburn campus

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The Auburn University Board of Trustees addressed several facility changes at its Nov. 12 meeting.

The College of Agriculture will work with Architecture Works of Birmingham for the college’s plan to create a Transformation Garden on campus. The firm will serve as project architect, transforming a 16-acre parcel between Lem Morrison Drive and Woodfield Drive into a garden that will allow the college to enhance its teaching and outreach efforts for students and the public.

Students will be able to utilize the space to gain hands-on experience with the latest industry practices, and research faculty will be able to tackle key challenges. The garden can also be a production facility for Auburn’s Campus Dining program, which has benefitted from collaborating with the college to produce fresh produce and fish for some campus dining facilities.

The Transformation Garden will be developed in numerous phases over the next several years.

In support of the garden project, the board accepted a plan to construct a two-lane campus road that extends Duncan Drive from Lem Morrison Drive to Woodfield Drive, connecting the Davis Arboretum to the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center.

The plan also includes adding bicycle lanes, sidewalks, street lighting, power, storm sewer and domestic water lines, and completing site grading, stormwater management and utility installation.

The estimated total cost of the road extension and infrastructure project is $4.1 million and will be financed by university general funds. LBYD Engineers of Birmingham was previously selected as project engineer.

A future student housing project has warranted the relocation of the Early Learning Center, the Marriage and Family Therapy Center and the Center for Health Ecology and Equity Research, all clinics associated with the College of Human Sciences, and the EAGLES program in the College of Education.

All programs are presently housed in buildings along the Haley Concourse, which will eventually be demolished to accommodate new student housing on the same site.

The Dawson Building on Donahue Drive will be remodeled to house the Early Learning Center. The second floor of Research Park Building 1, a 9,000-square-foot space, will be remodeled to accommodate the Marriage and Family Therapy Center and the Center for Health Ecology and Equity Research.

Suite 136 in Foy Hall, a 3,200-square-foot space, will be remodeled to house the EAGLES program.

The estimated project cost of $5.51 million will be financed by university general funds. Birchfield Penuel & Associates of Birmingham was previously selected as project architect.

The board acted on two additional projects involving student housing. A plan to demolish the Hill Residence Halls received final approval.

Considering the age and condition of the buildings, university officials determined it would not be cost effective to renovate. Demolition is the best option, as its location adjacent to the campus core makes the site ideal for future academic buildings.

The first phase of demolition is expected to cost $2.5 million and will occur next spring. The second phase is anticipated to cost $5 million and will occur next summer and fall.

The project, which will be financed with university general funds, will demolish 12 of the 14 buildings that make up the Hill complex. Sasnett Hall and Boyd Hall will remain. They are not as old as the other structures and can be of use to Student Affairs.

A project to repair and refurbish the Village Residence Halls will begin next spring with Matthews and Aubie Halls. All 484 suites will be refurbished over the next four years. Work includes replacing existing flooring, casework, countertops, vanities, bathroom fixtures and air conditioning units, and repainting suites and hallways. The $9.2 million anticipated cost will be covered by Student Affairs.

The board also acted on the following facility projects:

  • Selecting Poole & Company Architects LLC of Birmingham as project architect for an addition to the College of Veterinary Medicine’s North Auburn Equine Research Facility. The current program operates out of temporary facilities, which no longer support future growth of the federally funded research program. The project will provide modern facilities for research capabilities to match grant-funding opportunities. It is anticipated that the project would be financed by College of Veterinary Medicine funds.

  • Selecting Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons of Jackson, Mississippi, as project architect for the second phase of the Plainsman Park Player Development Center project. Aimed at enhancing the Plainsman Park fan experience, the project includes premium seating improvements above the new Player Development Center, as well as additional seating, new restrooms, concessions, a covered pavilion and a connection to the existing seating concourse.

  • Selecting Goodwyn Mills Cawood of Auburn to be project architect for renovating the women’s basketball locker room in Auburn Arena. The project will bring the current facilities up to competitive standards with planned improvements to the team’s meeting areas, video review lab, team lounge, nutrition area, coaches’ locker room and restrooms.

  • Selecting Davis Architects of Birmingham as the project architect for renovating the gymnastics and softball team areas in the McWhorter Center.

Trustee Wayne Smith gave an update on the presidential search and trustee selection processes. He said the Presidential Search Advisory Committee and search firm of Greenwood/Asher & Associates LLC are “actively working to find the best person for the job.”

The committee and firm have hosted several public listening sessions. The board announced its national search for Auburn’s 21st president in September.

Earlier this month, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced the opening for the application period to fill three open seats on the Auburn Board of Trustees. Applicants are currently being sought to fill seats in District 5 and 7 and one at-large seat. Applications, with supporting materials, are due by Dec. 6.

In other matters, the board:

  • Recognized the bald eagle, Spirit, upon her retirement as an Honorary War Eagle.

  • Recognized the life and legacy of Harold Franklin, Auburn’s first Black student. A replica of the bronze plaque unveiled Nov. 11 was presented to Franklin’s grandson.

  • Learned of a new undergraduate certificate in aviation hospitality management in the Department of Aviation, College of Liberal Arts.

  • Awarded a posthumous Doctor of Philosophy in music education to Federico Alberto Foster, who died in September and was on track to graduate in December.

  • Accepted a plan to replace the Wi-Fi system in Jordan-Hare Stadium with a more up-to-date system.

  • Decided to purchase 2.3 acres of land, adjacent to the university-owned E.V. Smith Research Center in Shorter, for $8,000.

  • Agreed to exchange property with the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, or ARS. ARS owns a 6.29-acre parcel at the corner of West Samford Avenue and South Donahue Drive, which it uses for soil dynamics research. In return for this parcel, Auburn University will exchange a 6.63-acre site in the Research Park, along with a 53.5-acre property at the South Auburn Fisheries Research Lab, which is currently used and leased by ARS. As part of this transaction, the university will amend the property covenants applying to land within the park to remove the ARS site from the scope of covered property.

  • Accepted the university’s updated image and character guidelines. The Office of the University Architect produced an updated version, focusing on the architectural image and character guidelines set out in the first edition and providing direction on how future facility design can both connect Auburn University’s historic fabric and meet the needs of a growing and forward-looking university. The second edition additionally provides guidance on how a building’s design is influenced by its location on campus and will ensure that all new projects undertaken by Auburn adhere to those qualities that make Auburn “Auburn.”

  • For Auburn University at Montgomery, the board granted the abatement of hazardous material from the Alabama Department of Public Health building, which will be renovated to serve as a new science laboratory facility. To expedite the renovation project, university officials wanted to conduct the abatement within the building prior to obtaining final approval of the overall project. It is anticipated that the project will be presented to the board for final approval in February, with the renovation commencing in April.

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, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation 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.