Auburn’s College of Education to get new, 167,000-square-foot building

Article body

The College of Education at Auburn University will have a new home.

The Auburn Board of Trustees at its Nov. 11 meeting took the final steps to approve the construction of a new building to be located at the corner of West Samford Avenue and Duncan Drive. The area across from Telfair Peet Theatre is currently under construction as the demolition of the Hill Residence Halls continues.

Plans currently call for a 167,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art instructional and research facility. The three-story building will include modern and collaborative classrooms, instructional laboratories, research spaces, up-to-date technology and administrative spaces for faculty and staff.

The college is currently based in the Haley Center, but it is spread across several campus buildings. The new building will allow the bulk of the college to reside solely in one building, which will enhance the student experience and facilitate a strong college identity and collaboration among departments.

The college’s School of Kinesiology will remain in its own building, as it has since 2013.

College of Education Dean Jeffrey Fairbrother called the future building “a significant achievement for the college,” as it will not only provide cohesion and a stronger identity for the college to be in one building, but more importantly, “it will be a hub to serve students better.”

The new building project is estimated to cost $77 million and will be financed by a combination of gift funds, university bond funds and Public School and College Authority funds.

The board initiated the building project four years ago and later selected Stacy Norman Architects of Auburn, Alabama, as the project architect.

Facilities Management will proceed with the bidding process and select a general contractor to construct the new building. Construction is anticipated to be completed in January 2025, with the building being occupied in April 2025.

In other academic matters, the board:

  • Accepted a proposal to establish the Auburn University Applied Research Institute, or AUARI. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, College of Sciences and Mathematics and College of Veterinary Medicine, along with the Office of the Vice President of Research and Economic Development, jointly proposed the establishment of the institute in Huntsville, Alabama. Utilizing existing university space at the Auburn University Research and Innovation Campus in Huntsville, the institute will provide greater visibility for the university’s capabilities to conduct research and elevate the research program to a position of greater prominence.

  • Accepted the closure of the Master of Education and Education Specialist degrees in library media and technology. The College of Education requested the closure, discontinuing both online and on-campus versions of the programs due to low student enrollment.

Also, the board learned that the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures in the College of Liberal Arts has created a 14-hour undergraduate certificate in workplace intercultural competence to support the growing demand for graduates prepared to work in diverse settings and with international companies.

The board granted final project approval to:

  • The renovation and completion of a tenant fit-out at the Research and Innovation Center in the Auburn Research Park for the College of Architecture, Design and Construction’s Research Commons. Plans call for a fit-out of 8,000 square feet on the fourth floor of the center and renovating 4,000 square feet of the adjacent supporting building. The estimated total project cost is $2.7 million and will be financed by the college. Goodwyn Mills Cawood of Birmingham, Alabama, was previously selected as the project architect.

  • The construction of a new 4,000-square-foot pavilion at the Graham Farm and Nature Center in Jackson County, Alabama, for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. The new pavilion will provide a covered patio, kitchen, meeting and outreach spaces and restrooms to expand the programs provided at the educational farm. The estimated total project cost is $2.95 million and will be financed by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System funds, with the potential for a grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Chapman Sisson Architects of Huntsville, Alabama, was previously selected to serve as the project architect.

  • The construction of a training center for Facilities Management. The 4,000-square-foot building will provide space to train the professional and skill trades staff of Facilities Management. It will feature flexible classrooms, demonstration space for training on industrial equipment and restrooms. The estimated total project cost is $2.5 million and will be financed by Facilities Management. JMR+H Architecture of Montgomery, Alabama, was previously selected as the project architect.

  • Phase III of the Parkerson Mill Greenway project, which will extend the existing campus greenway and trail network by constructing 0.4 miles of new shared-use path made of concrete and asphalt, path lighting and a new pedestrian bridge that crosses Parkerson Mill Creek. The estimated total project cost is $1.5 million and will be financed by a combination of a grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation, Facilities Management funds and university repair and renovation funds. LBYD of Auburn, Alabama, was previously selected to serve as the project engineer.

In other matters, the board:

  • Selected ArchitectureWorks of Birmingham, Alabama, as project architect for the Gulf Coast Engineering Research Station building project. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering proposed construction of a new building within the City of Orange Beach to provide laboratory, office and collaborative spaces for the research of coastal environments and communities of the Gulf Coast, as well as opportunities for collaboration with other Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium institutions. It is anticipated that the building project will be financed by grant funds from the RESTORE Council, in cooperation with the State of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

  • Selected Chambless King Architects of Montgomery, Alabama, as project architect for the Lowder Hall advising suite renovation project. The Harbert College of Business proposed the renovation of the advising suite in Lowder to create an enhanced reception area, additional advising offices and collaborative spaces to accommodate the growth of student enrollment and improve departmental efficiency. It is anticipated that the project will be financed by the college.

  • Agreed to initiate a project to construct a five-bay corporate hangar along the Auburn University Regional Airport’s south ramp and select Barge Design Solutions Inc. of Dothan, Alabama, as the project engineer. The project will accommodate the present and growing demand for this size and type of hangar and is anticipated to generate revenue for the airport. Financing will likely come from a grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation Aeronautics Bureau and airport funds.

  • Agreed to purchase approximately 1.53 acres of land in Opelika for the university to complete its airport runway safety area project. In April, the board took action to acquire property at Indian Pines Golf Course and move forward with the runway safety area project. However, a small parcel of residential land owned by Walker Rentals LLC remained unacquired. The Federal Aviation Administration will fund the purchase of the parcel, along with the Department of Transportation Aeronautics Bureau and the City of Auburn, City of Opelika and Lee County.

  • Appointed Trustee James Pratt to serve on the Trustee Selection Committee, alongside Trustee Wayne Smith, designee for the president pro tem.

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.