Auburn Culinary Science Center Under Construction

A rendering of the cooking classroom inside Auburn’s new Culinary Science Center. Rendering by Cooper Carry

HPM has been selected to serve as construction manager on the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, a $94.5 million, dual-purpose building at Auburn University that will house a learning environment blended with a luxury boutique hotel, restaurant and food hall.

Located at the corner of East Thach Avenue and South College Street in downtown Auburn, the center is a 142,000-square-foot complex that will facilitate hands-on, immersive learning experiences for students pursuing careers in hospitality and culinary sciences. Through the addition of classrooms, demonstration and food production laboratories, a brewing science center and new teaching restaurant on the property, students will be able to train alongside leading chefs and hospitality experts.

The luxury hotel portion of the project is seeking to achieve the AAA Five Diamond certification, an extremely exclusive title that is given to less than half of one percent of the 27,000 hotels evaluated annually. The ability of students to learn in a hands-on culinary facility and work in a Five Diamond hotel is an experience that no other institution in the country currently offers.

HPM will be drawing on their expertise to help land the certification. Previously HPM served as the owner’s representative during construction of a $35 million AAA Five Diamond Hotel in Houston, Texas, giving them unique insight on what is needed during the design and execution of the construction process to achieve the AAA Five Diamond certification.

“Our previous history in providing project management leadership on other high-profile hospitality and higher education initiatives made this an ideal fit for HPM,” said Mike Lanier, HPM president. “We are honored to partner with Auburn University on building this one-of-a-kind facility, which serves as a forerunner that will inspire a new breed of food and beverage, as well as hospitality-focused learning centers at college campuses across America.”

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Construction on the center began in April. Auburn alumnus and Board of Trustee member Jimmy Rane, CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving based in Abbeville, helped kickstart the project with a $12 million gift dedicated to the building’s construction. The board later approved the naming of the facility in honor of his parents, Tony and Libba Rane.

Since joining the project, HPM has scoped out and managed the bidding of a separate utility and enabling works package for the building contractor, helping to bypass time-intensive utility relocations and keep the overall project schedule on track.

“With so many moving parts and a variety of different work cultures, it’s imperative to have a seasoned owner’s representative that can quickly create and implement processes to keep things moving while maintaining cost efficiency for the university,” said Lanier. “We’re making steady progress on all fronts and look forward to the completion of construction next year.”

Included in the plans for the facility are:

  • The Laurel — A 32-room boutique teaching hotel for hospitality management students, which will include a rooftop garden providing vegetables and herbs and a sixth-floor spa.
  • 1856 — A 40-seat teaching restaurant open to the public with a chef-in-residence program. Junior level students will participate in lunch service, while senior students will provide for dinner service.
  • Heyday Market — A 9,000-square-foot food hall for vendors with a coffee bar and roastery. Included will be two vendor spaces that will be food incubators, providing graduates with a space at minimal cost to get their own restaurants started.
  • Wine Appreciation Center — A tasting room for 50 students with a master sommelier or certified wine educator.
  • Distilled Spirits Center — A micro-distillery to demonstrate the process to students.
  • Brewing Science Laboratory — Featuring a tasting room, microbiology laboratory and craft brewing instruction, including production and quality control.
  • Culinary Exhibition Lab — With atrium-style seating for 80 for students and the public to see commercial cooking demonstrations, culinary workshops and events.
  • Food and Beverage Media Studio — To teach food and beverage photography and videography.

In addition, the center will have six upper-level residences for long-term lease, which will be able to take advantage of the rooftop swimming pool and bar, full-service spa and other amenities.

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