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Auburn University expands footprint in Birmingham with new downtown building | Local News

LAUREN JOHNSON

Marking the 30th anniversary of Urban Studio Auburn and its work in Birmingham, Auburn University will soon have permanent space in downtown Birmingham.

Auburn University’s College of Architecture Design and Construction and Harbert College of Business will soon move into the Hood McPherson Building on North Fourth Avenue.

The 44,000 square foot building is currently idle and “will undergo a comprehensive refurbishment to prepare it for Auburn’s anticipated growth in the City of Birmingham,” according to the statement from Williams Blackstock Architects, a Birmingham architectural firm.

“I want to congratulate you all on 30 years,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said in the statement. “But the work doesn’t stop now. And it won’t stop in 30 years. Our revitalization mission looms but we dance alongside the work you all do here. So please know that I believe this city and this community will remain in good hands thanks to organizations like you.

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The Hood McPherson Building was previously a furniture gallery and warehouse, and the architects plan to modernize the space to accommodate events, offices and classrooms, as well as reflect the university’s work with the city at through the urban studio in Auburn.

“Urban Studio has had such a presence in Birmingham, but it will really place them in the urban fabric and give them a space of their own,” Auburn University architect Mary Melissa Taddeo said in a statement. “The focus is on expanding the footprint, and this is the first step in that direction.”

Auburn University’s Urban Studio is an education and outreach program of the College of Architecture Design and Construction and allows students to immerse themselves in the “laboratory” of downtown Birmingham, according to the website. the university.

Students participate in professional seminars and studio design projects focused on community development and urban planning.

Several members of the Williams Blackstock team working on the Hood McPherson Building restoration project participated in the Urban Studio program and continued their work in the city after graduation.

Auburn and company plan to restore the facade, including a new modern entrance inspired by the original building’s canopy, provide study and collaboration spaces, and offer flexible event spaces and galleries to support different fundraising functions and events, according to the release.

Downstairs, Auburn and Williams Blackstock also plan to install a video wall, which will allow the facility to host Auburn watch parties.

“This is not just an educational facility, but a place where the Auburn community and family can engage, collaborate and celebrate,” said Matt Foley, manager of Williams Blackstock and Auburn graduate, in the communicated.

“I expect it to be a place of experience and event that will be identifiable in Auburn, a place that will generate memories and have a meaningful impact on people’s lives.”

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