Work is under way on a £2.3million Animal Science Centre at Kingston Maurward College near Dorchester.
Students and staff joined contractors Kier Construction to celebrate the start of the project on the college campus.
College principal Clare Davison and senior animal and equine lecturer Aart Noordijk joined Kier director, Martin Orr, and senior contracts manager, Julian Smith, as students watched an excavator break the ground.
The site was formerly home to a straw barn and cattle shed.
The centre will provide a teaching facility for animal sciences with five classrooms, an ICT suite, areas for dog grooming and for small mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
There will also be a specialist teaching area and staff rooms, offices and welfare facilities.
The 1,300sqm building is designed to resemble the barn it replaces.
Clare Davison said: “This purpose-built Animal Science Centre will be an enormous asset to the college, meeting the highest welfare standards for animals and allowing students to benefit from modern airy classrooms.
“It will replace long outgrown animal conservation and welfare academy classrooms, which can now be better used for other purposes.”
Martin Orr, said: “We’re delighted to see work get under way on this exciting project for Kingston Maurward College.
“Working right in the middle of a live college and a working farm will of course have its challenges, but our team will work closely with the college to ensure we keep any disruption to a minimum, and keep everyone safe.”
The project is due for completion at the end of October.