Renovated Pavilion reflects state's agricultural heritage

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By Kristen Bowman

One of the most easily identifiable buildings along South Donahue Drive in Auburn recently received a major facelift.

The Agricultural Heritage Park Pavilion, located on South Donahue Drive on Auburn University’s campus, closed for improvements in December 2019, but is now reopened and redesigned to host events for the region. Events at the pavilion are already underway but subject to safety precautions in light of COVID-19, including a limit to fewer than 50 people and requirement to wear face coverings.

The interior of this focal point on campus—made iconic by its red exterior—reflects the region and state’s agricultural heritage, said Paul Patterson, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.

“We know that Ag Heritage Park is a destination of choice for many College of Agriculture alumni, friends, faculty and staff and the public—whether they are attending events in the pavilion or the weekly farmers markets in the summer," Patterson said. “We are thrilled to see our mission at Ag Heritage Park continue through the revitalization of this important venue.”

Ag Heritage Park is a joint venture of the Auburn University College of Agriculture and the Agricultural Alumni Association located on approximately 30 acres at the southwest corner of Samford Avenue and Donahue Drive. The park pays tribute to Alabama’s farmers and agricultural sector while also serving as a gathering place for students, faculty, alumni and friends throughout the year.

The improvements replaced the pavilion’s original garage doors with large windows that overlook the park’s pond and greenspace, added a floor-to-ceiling, stone-clad electric fireplace, and improved lighting, flooring, furnishings and finishes throughout the venue, according to Misty Glazier, director of business and fiscal administration, who led this project for the College of Agriculture.

As of July 2016, the College of Agriculture and The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center share operation of event venues at Ag Heritage Park, including the pavilion.

"This really is a collaboration across campus units,” said Hans van der Reijden, managing director of The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. “This was the College of Agriculture, the College of Human Sciences’ interior design program, the university’s Facilities Division and the hotel teams all working together in a great cross-campus collaboration for almost two years with beautiful results.”

According to Van der Reijden, the hotel has teamed with the university’s interior design program on interior renovations for years. Not only does this allow for beautiful new venues on campus, he said, but it provides practical application for students in interior design to take what they learn in the classroom and put it to work on a job.

For the pavilion project, interior design students worked with a professional designer to submit potential designs for the space. There were so many great ideas in the submissions, said Van der Reijden, that aspects of five students’ designs were used in the final renovation.

Specifically, Katherine Burkholder, a graduate of Auburn's interior design program, served as a lead designer on the project through CMH Architects, Inc. in Birmingham.

"The opportunity that the College of Agriculture and The Hotel at Auburn University provided for the interior design students to contribute to a real-life project — and then see their ideas actually come to life — was incredible,” said Anna Ruth Gatlin, assistant professor of consumer and design sciences, who worked with the interior design class on the project. “Multi-disciplinary partnerships like these are so important for every major; in the real world, work isn’t done in silos.”

The renovations have catapulted the pavilion — which has already booked a number of weddings in the coming months — to the top of the list of competitive rental venues in the area, according to Van der Reijden.

The pavilion was originally designed to honor Alabama farmers and their contributions by providing a gathering space for activities and events at the state’s largest land-grant institution. The initial build was made possible thanks to funding from Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance.

“Thanks to recent renovations, the Alfa pavilion is once again the crown jewel of Ag Heritage Park," said Jimmy Parnell, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance. “It’s a modern, open, comfortable venue that will easily flex with the needs of various events. We look forward to seeing others enjoy the newly renovated Alfa pavilion, while remembering the importance of agriculture to Alabama and Auburn University.”

For more information or to check availability at the Ag Heritage Park Pavilion, contact the sales department at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center at 334-321-3177 or by email at agpark@auhcc.com.

Tags: Auburn University, Agriculture, News, Events

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