One-of-a-kind culinary science center rising on Auburn University campus

One-of-a-kind culinary science center rising on Auburn University campus
The Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center at Auburn University will offer students a learning experience that combines luxury hotel, restaurant and food hall. (Auburn University)

Construction is moving forward on a groundbreaking building on Auburn University’s campus that will become home to a learning environment that blends a luxury boutique hotel, restaurant and food hall.

Situated at the corner of East Thach Avenue and South College Street in downtown Auburn, the Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center is a 142,000-square-foot complex that will provide hands-on, immersive experiences for students in a facility like no other.

According to Birmingham-based HPM, the construction manager for the project, work began on the structure in April. Auburn alumnus Jimmy Rane, a businessman who is on the university’s board of trustees, helped kick-start the project with a $12 million gift. 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 announced in 2019.

“Our 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,” said June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences.

“The entire complex will provide guests with an immersion in hospitality that is second to none.”

Five Diamond goal

In an update on the project, HPM said Auburn is seeking to achieve a 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 was owner’s representative during the construction of a $35 million Five Diamond-certified hotel in Houston.

“Our previous history in providing project management leadership on other high-profile hospitality and higher education initiatives made this an ideal fit for HPM,” company President Mike Lanier said.

“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,” he said.

HPM was 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 on a $40 million lumber production facility in the Henry County community of Abbeville.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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