Lasting Partnerships Lead to Innovation in Higher Education

With both among the most trusted names in higher education in Alabama, it’s no surprise that HPM and Auburn University have cultivated a fruitful partnership over the years. We share a professional relationship that spans nearly two decades and have produced successful project ventures including residence halls, research facilities, capital improvements, and more. While HPM’s client portfolio extends outside of education and the state itself, we value the longevity of this local partnership as well as the opportunity to collaborate on new and innovative challenges.

Auburn University recently selected HPM as its construction manager for The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center. Our team provides project management support to Auburn’s Facilities Management Administration group as they construct this innovative, multi-purpose building.

The new facility will serve as a combined learning space and luxury boutique hotel, restaurant, and food hall. Located at the corner of East Thach Avenue and South College Street in downtown Auburn, the 142,000-square-foot complex will promote immersive learning experiences for students pursuing careers in hospitality and culinary sciences. Students will have the opportunity to train alongside world-renowned chefs and hospitality experts in an interactive environment that includes several classrooms, demonstration and food production laboratories, a teaching restaurant, and even a brewing science center. This hands-on instructional atmosphere will offer students tangible experiences and equip them with the vital skills they need to evolve into future industry leaders.

In addition to its aspirations for student development, the Center’s luxury hotel component seeks to achieve the AAA Five Diamond certification. This coveted title is given to less than half of one percent of the 27,000 hotels evaluated annually. HPM is providing Auburn with the unique insight and attention to detail we acquired serving as owner’s representative for The Post Oak $35M AAA Five Diamond Hotel in Houston, Texas. This would be a first-of-its-kind opportunity for students to receive training at a first-rate culinary facility and Five Diamond hotel.

The greatest challenge for the University has been bypassing time-intensive utility relocations and keeping the overall project schedule on track with so many moving parts. To help resolve these issues, HPM scoped out and managed the bidding of a separate utility and enabled a works package for the building contractor. Our team of experts has deployed best practices learned from similar complex projects in the early pre-planning stages.

Sharing our knowledge base from extensive experience in higher education and hospitality construction management with our project partners facilitates collaboration, reduces project costs, and maximizes value for the university.

“Our previous history in providing project management leadership on other high-profile hospitality and higher education initiatives made this an ideal fit for HPM,” said HPM President Mike Lanier. “We are honored to partner with Auburn University on building this one-of-a-kind facility, which serves as a forerunner to inspire a new breed of food and beverage as well as hospitality-focused learning centers at college campuses across America. With so many moving parts and a variety of different work cultures, it’s imperative to have a seasoned owner’s representative that can quickly create and implement processes to keep things moving while maintaining cost efficiency for the university. We’re making steady progress on all fronts and look forward to the completion of construction next year.”

Construction on The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center began in April 2020. Auburn alumnus and Board of Trustees member Jimmy Rane helped kickstart the project with a $12M gift dedicated to the building’s construction. The board later approved naming the facility in honor of his parents, Tony and Libba Rane. The Center is anticipated to be open to students and visitors by Spring 2022.