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Auburn Collaboration Spells a Win for Southeastern Raptor Center

November 8, 2013

By Janet L. McCoy, (p) 334/844-3698; (e)

Auburn Alabama —

A collaborative effort between Auburn University units and construction professionals spelled a win for the Southeastern Raptor Center with the laying of a pervious concrete walkway which will allow visitors to have better and safer viewing of birds of prey.

Students in a Structures III class taught by Michael Hein, a professor in the McWhorter School of Building Science, working with Auburn Facilities Division and private contractors, prepared the site and placed the more than 300 linear feet of pervious concrete – a material that supports load while it allows water to pass through and reduces the environmental effects of storm water runoff.

The walkway is behind the bird mews at the Southeastern Raptor Center, a division of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University. The mission of the SRC is to rehabilitate and release injured and orphaned raptors, educate the public about their role and importance and  research raptor-related issues.

In addition to about 30 College of Architecture, Design and Construction students, Facilities Division employees and construction professionals, the work has been under the watchful eye of 26 birds of prey, including War Eagle VI (Tiger), War Eagle VII (Nova) and Spirit.

Dale Fisher with the National Pervious Concrete Pavement Association, who is considered by industry executives to be the creator of pervious concrete, also came from out of state to oversee the project. “I came to help with the logistics of the job because it is one of the most challenging, if not the most challenging, pour we’ve ever  done, because it is angled, narrow and we’re pouring against concrete block.

“We love Auburn and I commend them for what they have done in teaching and research related to pervious concrete,” Fisher said. “Auburn was working with pervious concrete 10 years ago and really set the pace.

“Plus, I was greeted  by Spirit (a bald eagle housed and cared for by the Southeastern Raptor Center) so it doesn’t get any better than that,” Fisher added.

The idea to replace the current gravel walkway was that of Southeastern Raptor Center staff Marianne Hudson and Andrew Hopkins, who conduct numerous private tours of the center for a group 30 people or less. “The gravel has caused issues for the disabled, those with strollers and the elderly,” Hudson said.

Hopkins was walking with a friend in the university’s Arboretum and learned about pervious concrete and began conversations as to the best way to pave the area at the Southeastern Raptor Center. “We’ve wanted it done for years because we average about one private tour each week and we have had challenges walking behind the mews.”

“We are excited and glad they are here, and are thrilled to become more accessible to all of our visitors,” Hudson said.

Students completing the service-learning project will be able to include it in their professional portfolios as experience, Hein said.

Although pervious concrete has been around since the 1970s and is considered a Best Management Practice by the EPA, it is not a widely used material in Alabama, so students will learn information they can take to the workforce. Over the past 10 years, Hein and previous students in his structures classes have used the material on several campus projects, including parking lots and more than 1,000 linear feet of walkways in the Arboretum.

Pervious concrete is a mixture of coarse aggregate, Portland cement, and special admixtures. The stiff mixture is deposited and compressed with a spinning roller. The result is a high permeability concrete that supports loads and drains quickly.

University Facilities has played an important role in the project, with staff and equipment being used. Several corporations are also involved, including The National Pervious Concrete Pavement Association, Alabama Concrete Industries Association, Ready Mix USA Concrete of Opelika, FORTA Corporation and Estes Landscape Design. 

Contacts: Janet McCoy, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, 334/844-3698,; Colleen Bourdeau, College of Architecture, Design and Construction, 334.844.4590,

Auburn University | College of Veterinary Medicine | Auburn, Alabama 36849 | (334) 844-4546
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