At its most recent meeting, the Auburn University Board of Trustees gave final approval for projects that would bring an Academic Classroom and Laboratory Complex and a Central Dining Facility to the heart of campus.
The ACLC, which will be renamed at some point, is the second phase of the university's effort to bring new instructional facilities online on campus to replace aging and outdated buildings, including Haley Center, Allison Laboratory, and Parker, Funchess, Upchurch and Spidle halls.
The university completed its initial effort to create central classroom facilities with construction of Mell Classroom Building, a $35 million, 69,000 square-foot structure that is attached to the front of the Ralph Brown Draughon Library and opened in the fall of 2017.
The ACLC will have a much larger footprint, with the 151,000 square-foot building consisting of seating capacity for 2,000 students and more than 20 adaptable classroom/laboratories to meet the university's goal of creating more flexible instructional space, which will "reduce scheduling bottlenecks and reduce reliance on the outdated Haley Center classroom space," according to BOT meeting materials.
"This is kind of the neat thing about this building is most of the classrooms are of this adaptable nature where we can set them up either during the semester or at the beginning of the semester to be a lab for chemistry or geosciences or whatever ... or we can make it into a classroom," said Bill Hardgrave, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. "It will give us much-needed classroom capacity on campus."
It will be located on the current site of Allison Laboratory, which will be demolished after the current school term ends this spring. Parker Hall will be demolished after construction of the complex is completed.
The ACLC will back up to the Bibb Graves Amphitheater, which will not be demolished.
"It's going to be right up to it," said Dan King, associate vice president for Facilities.
No heritage trees around the amphitheater will be impacted, either.
The cost of the ACLC is estimated at $83 million, and will be financed with debt service paid for by University General Funds. The ACLC is projected to be completed by the summer of 2021.
Construction of the Central Dining Facility, which will be located next to the ACLC, is expected to also begin this spring.
The 48,000-square-foot facility will have a 800 -person seating capacity, cost $26 million and will include 10 different food concepts and four flexible meeting spaces, said Bobby Woodard, senior vice president for Student Affairs.
"I will tell you the Student Center right now is over-capacity," he said. "This will help alleviate some of that."
The $26 million cost of the facility will be covered by Aramark Corporation, which agreed to invest in a new facility in the contract it signed in 2018 to become the university's campus food service provider.
"The negotiation for that contract was for them to pay for a central dining facility ... which is where the money is coming from for this," said Woodard.
The Central Dining Facility is expected to open prior to the start of the 2020-21 academic year.