Auburn University, Alabama, will construct Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, a transformative complex that will blend a learning environment with a luxury boutique hotel and restaurant.
To be opened in 2021, the 142,000ft² facility will provide students interested in hospitality and culinary sciences with hands-on learning experiences in a teaching hotel and a teaching restaurant, a range of classrooms and demonstration and food production laboratories.
Auburn University offers Alabama’s only professionally accredited hospitality programme and the new centre is expected to draw students currently in top culinary programmes in high schools in Alabama and across the nation.
The facility is also expected to become a destination for alumni and new guests alike who enjoy food and beverage tourism.
According to the Alabama Tourism Department, around 26.6 million people visited the state in 2017, generating over $14.3bn in revenue.
The challenge for Alabama is to maintain the tourism growth while facing a shortage of appropriately qualified employees in culinary and hospitality trades.
The estimated project cost of $95.4m will be met by gifts to the College of Human Sciences, university general funds and revenue from the hotel, restaurant, a food hall and leased living units.
The Rane Culinary Science Center will be the university’s first revenue-generating academic building. The university plans to raise an additional $13m in philanthropic support through naming opportunities within the building.
Ground-breaking ceremony for the centre at the corner of East Thach Avenue and South College Street will be held in April 2019.
The centre will provide a learning platform for students to plan, market, manage and evaluate a commercial hospitality operation, while providing them with opportunities to develop technical and leadership skills.
It will include the Laurel, a luxury boutique teaching hotel, which features a spa on the sixth floor and a rooftop garden; 1856, a 40-seat teaching restaurant; Heyday Market, a 9,000ft² food hall; Wine Appreciation Center on the second floor above 1856; Distilled Spirits Center adjacent to the Wine Appreciation Center on the second floor; Brewing Science Laboratory; Culinary Exhibition Lab; and Food and Beverage Media Studio.
The centre will also feature Culinary Get-Aways and The Residences at the Laurel, where six upper-level residences will be available for long-term leasing.
Image: Rendering of the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center. Photo: Courtesy of Auburn University.