AUBURN, Alabama â€“ Construction is moving forward on a groundbreaking building on Auburn Universityâ€™s campus that will become home to a learning environment that blends a luxury boutique hotel, restaurant and food hall.
Located at the corner of East Thach Avenue and South College Street in downtown Auburn, the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center is a 142,000-square-foot complex that will provide hands-on, immersive experiences for students in facility like no other.
According to Birmingham-based HPM, the construction manager for the project, work began on the structure in April 2020. Auburn alumnus Jimmy Rane, a businessman who serves on the Board of Trustees, helped kickstart the project with a $12 million gift dedicated to the buildingâ€™s construction. The world-class facility is named in honor of his parents.
Auburn expects the center to become a draw for students currently in top culinary programs in high schools in Alabama and across the nation. The project was first announced in 2019.
â€œOur students will have unparalleled opportunities to learn best practices in the hospitality and culinary sciences within a luxury setting from the best in the industry,â€� said June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences.
â€œThe entire complex will provide guests with an immersion in hospitality that is second to none.â€�
In an update on the project, HPM said Auburn is seeking to achieve the rare AAA Five Diamond certification for the hotel component, which is given to less than 0.5% of the 27,000 hotels evaluated annually. HPM previously served as ownerâ€™s representative during the construction of a $35 million Five Diamond-certified hotel in Houston.
â€œOur previous history in providing project management leadership on other high-profile hospitality and higher education initiatives made this an ideal fit for HPM,â€� company President Mike Lanier said.
â€œWe 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,â€� he added.
HPM is active across the nation and served as program manager for Airbus in the construction of its A320 and A220 final assembly lines in Mobile.
Rane is founder and CEO of Alabama-based Great Southern Wood, which last year launched production a new $40 million lumber production facility in the Henry County community of Abbeville.