We’ve had our eye on downtown’s historic Hood-McPherson Building for a while, knowing a big renovation was in the works. Yesterday, Auburn University’s new President Dr. Chris Roberts let the Rotary Club of Birmingham in on what’s happening. Here’s what we learned.
Looking back: the historic Hood-McPherson Building
Learning about the plans for the historic Hood-McPherson Building
Dr. Chris Roberts became the new President of Auburn University on May 16, 2022, so his presentation at the Rotary Club of Birmingham yesterday was an exciting time to hear about his vision. During the Q&A afterwards, he was asked about Auburn’s plans for a Birmingham presence. Here’s what he said:
The Hood-McPherson project was initiated prior to Roberts’ arrival. In fact, we wrote about it back in April of this year, when the focus was primarily on providing the Urban Studio a new home. Now, it sounds like plans have expanded for the building:
“The Hood-McPherson Building is a facility that we purchased—we’re going through our design and renovation stages now for the facility. Our College of Architecture, Design and Construction will have a permanent presence there. Our Harbert College of Business will have a permanent presence there, and it also provides some meeting and ‘hoteling’ office spaces for various colleges. My old college, the College of Engineering, has a lot of interactions here.
So it will provide us a place to hunker down when we’re providing support to the community here.”Dr. Chris Roberts, President, Auburn University
He went on to explain that the College of Business and the College of Architecture, Design and Construction are not bringing new programs—they’re supporting initiatives that have been taking place in the city for a long time such as the Urban Studio which provides internship opportunities so students can have a semester in Birmingham.
“It will also allow us to listen a little more carefully as to what the needs are in the state so that we can bring to bear the research prowess we have on campus in addressing the needs and challenges of the community.”Dr. Chris Roberts, President, Auburn University
New life for an old building with Williams Blackstock Architects
We reached out to Matt Foley, principal architect on the project for Williams Blackstock Architects to learn more about the project:
“Currently dormant, the 44,000-square foot Hood McPherson Building located on 4th Ave. N. will undergo a comprehensive renovation to prepare it for Auburn’s new home in the City of Birmingham. The former furniture gallery and warehouse will be modernized into a beautiful space for teaching, collaboration and gatherings, providing a permanent space for the University’s longstanding work within central Alabama.”Matt Foley, Williams Blackstock Architects
We can’t wait to see what the new space looks like and we’re looking forward to all the energy it will bring to The Magic City.