Auburn University is bringing new life to the historic Hood-McPherson Building downtown

Hood-McPherson Building
The Hood-McPherson Building is going to look amazing when the renovation is complete. (Rendering/Williams Blackstock Architects)

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

Hood McPherson Building
Can’t wait to see the renovation of the historic Hood-McPherson Building downtown. (Bham Now)

Built in 1914, this building served as the showroom for Hood-McPherson Furniture for many years. It’s located at 2013-15 4th Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203, next door to the Harbert Center.

Learning about the plans for the historic Hood-McPherson Building

Auburn University President at Rotary
Dr. Chris Roberts, Auburn University President, speaking at the Downtown Rotary on Wednesday, June 29. (Bham Now)

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

They’re establishing a presence in Huntsville, too.

New life for an old building with Williams Blackstock Architects

  • Hood-McPherson Building
  • AUHood Entry scaled Auburn University is bringing new life to the historic Hood-McPherson Building downtown

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.

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Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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