Pulaski Technical College broke ground Thursday, May 31 on a new 52,000-square-foot Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Center that will enable the college to serve a growing number of students pursuing training through the college's Arkansas Culinary School.
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Approximately 200 faculty, staff, students, city and state officials, and business leaders, including many from the hospitality industry, attended the groundbreaking ceremony at the college's Little Rock-South site, which houses the Arkansas Culinary School.
"We have reached a juncture where we must expand facilities to meet the needs of students," said John Suskie, chairman of the Pulaski Technical College Board of Trustees.
The new two-story center will accommodate as many as 800 students. About 500 students are currently enrolled in programs. The college offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in Baking and Pastry Arts, Culinary Arts, and Hospitality Managements and Technical Certificates in Baking and Pastry, Culinary Arts, and Wine and Spirits Studies.
Other speakers included Dr. Dan F. Bakke, the outgoing college president; Mayor Mark Stodola of Little Rock; Todd Gold, director of the Arkansas Culinary School; and Monte Hansen, general manager of the Peabody Hotel Little Rock.
Gold said the new facility will give the school a competitive edge in attracting and retaining future culinarians and hospitality professionals.
"We will continue to recruit and educate students in central Arkansas and beyond and offer them the same education that they would receive at the nation's top culinary institutions but at a fraction of the cost," he said.
The Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including a 130-seat media classroom that allows broadcast via direct video capture for television broadcast of cooking demonstrations by celebrity or faculty chefs. It will include classroom space, cooking labs and 10 kitchens designed for specific purposes, such as baking, candies and chocolates and butchery. All of the cooking labs will have glass walls that allow visitors to watch students prepare meals without disrupting the class by having to enter the room.
The center is expected to open in fall 2013. Taggart Foster Currence Gray Architects is the project architect, and Kinco Constructors is the general contractor for the $15 million project.
The Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Center also has been designed to meet criteria for the LEED Silver credential. Natural materials and sustainable and energy-efficient systems will be incorporated throughout the building.
The Arkansas Culinary School is accredited by The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation and The Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration, making it one of the few colleges in the country with dual accreditation. The college's Wine and Spirits Studies program is also accredited by the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (London, England).
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