AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today for its new Mike Hubbard Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce, an 84,000-square-foot facility designed to foster multidisciplinary research, advance the university’s academic mission and generate economic development in the state.
The facility, located in the Auburn Research Park, will enhance Auburn’s scientific research in bioenergy, water quality, food safety and engineering, genomics, information science and ecosystem health. It has 20 high-tech laboratories with specialized equipment, a super computer, seminar rooms and outside features such as two 5-ton cranes for biofuels work.
Researchers from Auburn’s colleges and schools of Agriculture; Engineering; Sciences and Mathematics; Architecture, Design and Construction; and Forestry and Wildlife Sciences will be housed in the building.
“This new facility will provide the ideal environment and infrastructure required to develop, test and implement solutions for Auburn’s strategic research initiatives,” said John Mason, vice president for research at Auburn. “These include our focus on cyber systems and security, energy and the environment, health sciences and food systems and transportation.”
Construction on the $28.8 million center began in late 2011. In June 2012 the Auburn University Board of Trustees voted to name it after Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who helped secure $14.1 million in state matching funds to accompany a $14.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. Auburn University and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station provided the remaining support and will fund the operation of the center.
“We are grateful to Speaker Hubbard and Dr. Willie May of the National Institute of Standards and Technology for their support and commitment to Auburn University’s research efforts and the land-grant mission,” Mason said. “Our faculty and students will benefit immensely through the research we will conduct.”
The center has the potential to bring in millions of dollars in research grants and contracts annually, which can result in several times that amount in amplified economic impact per year.
“I am deeply honored to have my name associated with this remarkable center and I know the potential research breakthroughs and economic benefits will exponentially benefit the great state of Alabama for years to come,” Hubbard said. “Auburn is known across the country, and across the world, for its research capabilities and this facility will only help expand that reputation.”
Officials say work done in the building could be a boon to the state’s economy, such as the renewable energy focus leading to new jobs. Food safety research will also position Alabama as a hub for the nation’s food safety testing, technology development and training.
“As our global population grows and societies change in many ways, we are facing new challenges across the agricultural landscape,” said Bill Batchelor, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. “It is critically important that our researchers have the tools and resources they need to discover real solutions to these challenges, and that is what the Hubbard Center is offering. This is a valuable facility for Auburn and for the agricultural industry as a whole.”
Water research at the facility will explore issues such as water availability, quality and use, all of which are vital to Alabama’s economic development. Genomics and informatics-based technologies – two recently emerged branches of science that focus on the discovery and utilization of the entire genetic potential of plants, animals and microorganisms – that are developed at the building could attract new businesses and enterprises to Alabama, creating employment opportunities to foster a science-based and technology-driven economy that attracts additional clean and green industry to Alabama.
The Perkins and Will architectural firm designed the center that is expected to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s gold certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, for its energy efficiency, safety features and low environmental impact. The construction manager for the facility was Brasfield and Gorrie.
(Written by Charles Martin.)