M. Miller Gorrie Center Celebrates 15th Anniversary
The M. Miller Gorrie Center, where Auburn’s McWhorter School of Building Science is housed, turns fifteen years old on October 20, 2021.
Much more than four walls and a roof, “Gorrie,” as it’s affectionately known, is a constantly evolving center of activity that caters to the unique needs of the building science program and its students and faculty. Named after alumnus M. Miller Gorrie, founder and chairman of Brasfield & Gorrie, the building was the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified building on Auburn’s campus and one of the first in the state of Alabama. Over the years, the 36,000 square foot Gorrie Center has been continually updated to ensure that students have access to the latest technology.
Dan Bennett, FAIA, was Dean of the College of Architecture, Design and Construction (CADC) at the time the Gorrie Center was built. He was also one of the founders of a university-wide taskforce that worked to include sustainability into everyday practices on campus. Bennett says that when planning for the Gorrie Center began, the building’s ‘green’ designs did not meet Auburn’s standards for image and design aesthetics in campus buildings. “We had to fight to make the building appropriate for construction education,” Bennett said. “The key argument was our desire to get LEED certification. That helped us justify what we were doing was appropriate.”
Since construction was completed in 2006, the Gorrie Center has undergone multiple renovations to ensure that students are consistently working with the latest industry technology. “All of our renovations are done with the intention of improving our students’ educational experience,” said school head Richard Burt. “We want to ensure they are well prepared for the workforce when they graduate.” Recent upgrades include a Virtual Design Construction (VDC) Laboratory, which allows students to gain experience working with virtual reality and building information modeling, as well as three competition team rooms for students competing regionally, nationally and internationally.
The competition rooms have been especially helpful in recent months since many competitions have gone virtual due to COVID-19, and teams now use the space both to prepare and to present their work to a panel of judges via live video. Another recent addition is Gorrie’s EASL (Engaged Active Student Learning) classroom, which encourages active learning by allowing students to move easily around the room, work in breakout groups and share their work online or in person by projecting it on the walls.
The Gorrie Center also includes a thesis room equipped with computers that have sophisticated industry-relevant software that students need to complete their final theses, as well as conference rooms, a student lounge and a sophisticated computer lab.
At the time it was built, the Gorrie Center changed the way facilities were designed and built on Auburn’s campus, and today the building continues to be a leader in educational technology. Gorrie serves the BSCI faculty and staff well and is the treasured home of the building science program.