Auburn University plans to renovate a former furniture gallery in Birmingham to host its architecture and business programs. (Courtesy of Williams Blackstock Architects)
Auburn University’s architecture program, which has had an Urban Studio program based in Birmingham for 30 years, will soon have its own building.
Auburn’s College of Architecture Design and Construction and Harbert College of Business are working with Williams Blackstock Architects to renovate a downtown building as a new home for architecture and business programs, classes and events.
The dormant 44,000-square-foot Hood McPherson Building, a former furniture gallery, showroom and warehouse on Fourth Avenue North near 20th Street, will be modernized into an event and office space with classrooms, according to a statement from Williams Blackstock Architects, which employs several graduates of the program.
It will be the home for the College of Architecture Design and Construction and College of Business.
“Urban Studio has had such a presence in Birmingham, but this will really put them into the urban fabric and give them a space of their own,” said Auburn University architect Mary Melissa Taddeo. “The focus is on expanding the footprint, and this is the first step in that direction.”
The design includes a plan for a restored façade that includes a new entrance inspired by the original building canopy. The building will feature spaces for study, collaboration, event spaces and galleries to support university functions and fundraising, including a video wall on the ground level to host Auburn watch parties.
“This is not only an educational facility, but a place for the community and Auburn family to engage, collaborate and celebrate,” said Matt Foley, a principal at Williams Blackstock and Auburn graduate. “I expect it to be a place of experience and event that will be identifiably Auburn, a place that will generate memories and meaningful impact upon people’s lives.”
Construction is expected to begin in August and take about a year.
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