Trustees-approved STEM+Ag Complex to house six academic departments, transform campus landscape

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Auburn University will soon construct a new academic building complex, focusing on science, technology, engineering, mathematics and agriculture.

The Auburn Board of Trustees, at its Feb. 3 meeting at Auburn University at Montgomery, gave final approval on a project known as the STEM+Ag Complex because it will house instructional and research programs in the College of Sciences and Mathematics and College of Agriculture. STEM is the acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The proposed project is set to be a three-building complex, encompassing 265,000 square feet. It will be located along West Samford Avenue, on the northeast corner of the former site of the Hill Residence Hall complex, adjacent to the new home for the College of Education.

Auburn President Christopher B. Roberts called the proposed STEM+Ag Complex a “game changer” for students.

The STEM+Ag Complex will allow the university to replace a number of older STEM-related and agricultural science facilities and provide appropriate space for state-of-the-art wet and dry research labs, principal investigator offices, collaboration spaces, shared lab support spaces and instructional labs for the departments of:

  • Mathematics and Statistics

  • Geosciences

  • Biological Sciences

  • Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences

  • Entomology and Plant Pathology

  • Horticulture

By relocating mathematics and statistics from Parker Hall, geosciences from Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum and the four College of Agriculture departments from Funchess Hall, Parker can be demolished. The move also will facilitate the eventual demolition of Funchess and the coliseum.

Dan King, associate vice president for Facilities Management, noted that the new complex will encompass less square footage than these departments do currently, making it a more efficient and cost-effective use of space.

The board approved a total project cost of $200 million, which includes design, construction and equipment cost. This approval represents the largest ever investment in academic infrastructure at Auburn.

The university has secured $36.4 million in state bond funding and $50 million under the state’s Public School and College Authority to support the project. College reserves and gifts, as well as university bonds, also will be used.

Facilities Management will begin soliciting for construction bids. The board previously named Goodwin Mills Cawood of Birmingham, Alabama, and Lord Aeck Sargent of Atlanta as the architectural team for the project.

Other projects receiving final board approval were:

  • The renovation of the former Au Bon Pain location in the Melton Student Center to relocate Starbucks. Seay, Seay and Litchfield Architects of Montgomery, Alabama, was previously selected as project architect. The firm has designed several Auburn dining facilities in recent years. Starbucks will be able to provide its full menu in a larger space. Campus Dining will finance the $1.75 million cost.

  • Planned improvements to Plainsman Park, including the First Base Club, a three-story expansion along the first base line to add enhanced premium seating, club space, concessions and improved accessibility for the south entrance and Right Field Terrace; the Right Field Terrace, add seating over the Player Performance Development facility and new concessions; and the Green Monster Terrace, a new, 4,200-square-foot viewing area over the Green Monster in left field with improved concessions and restrooms to support patrons. Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons of Jackson, Mississippi, was previously selected as the project architect. The $30 million project cost will be financed by Athletics Department funds and university bonds.

  • The renovation of the gymnastics and softball team areas within the McWhorter Center. The existing two-story, 33,500-square-foot building will be renovated to accommodate new locker rooms and team training rooms and to replace essential building systems. Davis Architects of Birmingham, Alabama, was previously named project architect. Athletics is anticipated to finance the $4.9 million project with bonds and gifts.

  • The construction of a five-bay corporate hangar along the Auburn University Regional Airport’s south ramp. The space is expected to accommodate the current demand for sheltering turboprop planes and small jets. The new corporate hangar will generate revenue for the airport. Barge Design Solutions Inc. of Dothan, Alabama, was previously selected as engineer for the project. The $3 million cost will be financed with a grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation Aeronautics Bureau and airport funds.

In other matters, the board:

  • Initiated a project to renovate a portion of the basement in the Recreation and Wellness Center to accommodate the relocation of Health Promotion and Wellness Services from the Melton Student Center. Campus Recreation will finance the project.

  • Authorized a project to demolish three vacant College of Human Sciences’ clinic buildings along the east side of the Haley Concourse. Once the buildings are down, the site will be landscaped to provide additional campus greenspace until the university student housing project is underway. Demolition is expected to start this summer and be done in the fall. The $3.05 million project will be financed by university general funds.

  • Established a new degree program in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The Bachelor of Science in Public and One Health will be for students interested in studying the links between human, animal and ecosystem health. The new program will include multidisciplinary courses from eight colleges and will provide graduates with employment opportunities across the public and non-profit health sectors. While similar public health programs exist in the state, this will be the first to offer animal sciences, veterinary medicine and agricultural disciplines unique to Auburn University.

  • Posthumously awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Earth system science to Sharif Mustaque, who passed away in January.

  • Modified a property exchange with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, which gave the university the Agricultural Research Service, or ARS, property on the corner of West Samford Avenue and South Donahue Drive in exchange for university property and land in the Auburn Research Park, where ARS is currently constructing a new research complex. A $43 million appropriation from Congress facilitated the relocation. There has since been a funding shortfall for the project, but with efforts from the university and ARS, Congress has appropriated an additional $28 million to ensure its completion. In the meantime, ARS has requested the property exchange agreement be modified to reflect its desire to use the current ARS property for no more than six years or until it can fully relocate to its new location, whichever occurs first.

  • Sold the College of Veterinary Medicine’s residual interest in the real estate at 3914 Panorama Drive in Huntsville, Alabama. The college was the beneficiary of a 10 percent residual interest in the property. The current owner has offered to buy the interest from the university.

  • Authorized the engagement of a duly licensed real estate broker to market and solicit sale offers for a 3.05-acre parcel at 304 Goodwin Crest Drive in Birmingham, Alabama, which was gifted to the university in 1976.

  • Set the 2023-24 board meeting dates as: Aug. 25 and Nov. 17, 2023; and Feb. 2 at Auburn University at Montgomery, April 12 and June 7, 2024, for its annual meeting.

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.