Auburn women have left their mark across campus in more ways than one. On Sept. 27, 2019, they left a permanent one in the form of a monument commemorating the 125th Anniversary of Auburn Women, a campaign recognizing the first three women students and the legacy women have had on the school.
A gift from alumni Melanie and Paul Barstad to honor Melanie’s parents, James and Juanita Lee Whatley, the design of the statue itself was adapted from the original 125th icon used throughout campus. What initially began as a logo tying the other parts of the 125th Anniversary brand together came to represent the achievements of Auburn women throughout history.
Though plans were in place as early as spring 2017 to dedicate a monument to Auburn women on campus, the design team hired from Advent by the Auburn Alumni Association Office of Development went through dozens of ideas on what it should look like. It wasn’t until Advent Design Director Lauren Duke Patterson ’11 saw the logo on the cover of the Fall 2017 issue of Auburn Magazine that she knew she had found the right inspiration.
“We had been going through three rounds [of designs], we were on our final round with the committee and the timing was perfect — I got the alumni magazine in the mail, and it was exactly what the statue needed to be,” said Patterson. “The elements in the story helped me present the idea back to the committee as a way we could represent all women.”
Patterson’s connections to Auburn run deeper than the monument, though. Her father, Roger Duke, raised her into the Auburn Family as soon as she could walk. “I even had the whole little cheerleader outfit and everything.”
Patterson attended Georgia Tech for her undergrad degree, but came to Auburn to earn her MBA. Besides the thrill of Cam Newton’s journey to the 2010 National Championship, Patterson counts winning the CASE Senior Capstone competition among her favorite Auburn memories.
That, and meeting her husband, Sam Patterson ’12. The two were both completing their masters at the time and went on their first date the night of Super Bowl LXIV. Sam proposed while the two were at Topsail Hill State Park in Florida and the two were married in 2014.
Patterson remained in Auburn after graduating, working for the Auburn Athletic Department and at CopyCat, which is how she first learned about Advent.
“We were printing the boards for the indoor practice facility as they were remodeling it, building and finishing it. I saw Advent’s logo on it, and I found out about them through their renders,” said Patterson.
Her first job with Advent was still in Auburn designing the weight room in the athletic center, followed by the Harbert Family Recruiting Center, the new lobby in the Lowder College of Business and Horton-Hardgrave Hall. Seven years later Patterson is still with Advent, excited to handle whatever challenge walks through their doors. As design director, Patterson leads a team of designers, artists and builders to understand the spirit and character of a client or project, then turn their inspiration into real-life elements.
“You first have to understand the client, understand the story, then do what we call ‘story mining’ — talking, listening and showing empathy for the client,” said Patterson. “We want to hear what the message is, what the issues are with the space or the new space, what they’re trying to achieve, then we take that and strategize through sketches.”
Once they’ve determined the right direction for the client, the Advent team moves into realism-modeling and fabrication.
For the 125th Anniversary of Auburn Women project, Patterson brought on several Auburn alumni to help turn the cover design into the massive six-foot-tall statue and base. They extruded the design in 3D-design software SketchUp to determine the scale. The digital designs were sent to sculptor Chris George founder of Buffalo, Wyoming-based Frontier Iron Works, so that the metal strips could be welded together. Finally, the statue was finished with a dark bronze patina to match with the other sculptures on campus. After walking around campus for so many years, having her own contribution there is still surreal for Patterson.
“It was fun to be at the beginning, and then to see it happen is pretty amazing. It’s pretty awesome because it is a pretty unique piece of art on Auburn’s campus that people will remember and engage with,” she said.
Patterson was unable to attend the monument’s formal dedication ceremony, but for a good reason — her son Duke was born in late July. He already has an Auburn outfit of his own.
“Anytime I get to work on a project for Auburn it means a lot to me, my family and all of our friends from “Section 50” — that’s the seats we had in Jordan-Hare,” said Patterson. “I was happy that we were able to make it work and happy that it looks good, and I think the reactions I’ve heard from the Auburn Family is that they love it.”