Penn State’s new Willard Building media center to foster collaboration and unity | University park campus news



After a $ 48 million investment, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and months of work, completion of the new multimedia center added to Penn State’s Willard Building is fast approaching.

With 63,000 square feet of studio space, labs, classrooms, offices and collaborative common spaces, the new facility is slated to officially open this fall semester, according to Karen Mozley-Bryan, the coordinator of the programs. facilities for the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

“Times have changed and I think that will allow us to move forward,” said Mozley-Bryan.

Schemes for the project allocated specific spaces to campus organizations such as COMM Agency, COMM Radio, Center County Report, and The Daily Collegian. Offices for the College of Communications have been reserved on the third floor.

The project also reserved spaces for three major broadcast studios, including a black box studio, a production studio and a TV news studio, each with control rooms and other technology, according to Monica Reed, manager. of the Penn State Office of Physical Plant Facilities Project. A studio for strategic communications will also be included, she said.

The TV production studio is located on the ground floor of the building. The studio has a green screen, to be used for making movies or projects like music videos.

One of the main objectives of the project was to consolidate the College of Communications into one space on campus. Previously, the college was split between the Willard Building, Carnegie Building and Innovation Park – an area off campus and accessible only by bus or car.

“It was a transformation for the college because we were able to consolidate all [its] spaces in one place, ”Reed said.

The college’s dispersal has been a real challenge for both its students and faculty, according to Scott Myrick, senior lecturer in the college’s telecommunications department and director of operations for the new media center.

“Because we’ve been so apart, there’s never really been a way to connect or collaborate or use technology to combine efforts and make things bigger and better,” Myrick said.

He said he would find it difficult to organize efficient office hours for his students, as his office – previously located in Innovation Park – was often too far away from where he was supposed to teach.

Mozley-Bryan echoed Myrick’s concerns and said the college has been using the facilities at Innovation Park for almost two decades, but at the cost of student time. She said students often found it difficult to move between campus while attending classes on time.

But according to Mozley-Bryan, the new facility will solve the college of Communications’s logistical challenges.

“Now all of our facilities are on the main campus,” Mozley-Bryan said. “Time is very important to people, and [the new media center] certainly improved this for students.

She said students are now able to schedule classes without worrying so much about the building or the room in which the section will be held.

Willard Media Center, common counter space

One of the main side corridors on the first floor contains several sofas, stools and worktops for students to work and collaborate with. One of the main objectives of the new building will be to foster an atmosphere of collaboration between students and faculty.

Communication student Ainsley Adams said she believes the new space will be useful and convenient for club meetings and other extracurricular activities as well.

But that’s not all – Adams (junior public relations and political science) said she hopes the new facility will also serve as a beacon for students interested in communications or those unfamiliar with the field.

“Having a lot of equipment and things that some clubs and classes need on site instead of having them off campus will make it easier for other students who may be underage or want to get their toes wet in communications.” Adams said.

Reed agreed with Adams and said the new facility could even be used to interest students in other Penn State programs like music or arts and architecture.

“I hope other students can see what the communications are doing, what the college is doing,” Reed said. “[Its] installations will be more visible, and bring [it] on the central campus will really make a big difference.

The college’s anticipated impact of the new facility won’t end there, Reed said.

“We are raising awareness of the College of Communications, which is a highly regarded college [among] our peers, ”Reed said. “I think these new facilities will help [it] raise [its] status more.

For Mozley-Bryan, however, the project’s most profound impact will be its ability to promote “an explosion of collaboration” for students and faculty members.

“In the world we live in now, everyone interacts with each other in one way or another,” Mozley-Bryan said. “We plan to use this building to the fullest… It will definitely be a hub – it will definitely jump up and run 24/7.”

Willard Media Center, Bureau of Commons

An office in the common area is in the middle of the open space on the second floor next to the new office of the Daily Collegian. The office will serve as the collaborative grounds for the region, providing students and faculty with assistance should they need it.

Mozley-Bryan said she wanted to host large events and gatherings on the ground floor of the building as well as in some of the larger rooms and spaces on the upper floors.

Echoing Mozley-Bryan’s hopes for the future, Myrick said the facility’s new technology could allow students and faculty to remain interconnected across rooms and even floors of the building.

“We’re going to be able to do things and share resources in ways that we haven’t been able to do before,” Myrick said.

Adams and Myrick both said they were excited about the “chance” collaborations that they said could occur in the new spaces.

Adams said she was ready to meet new people in a “space designed for communication students” and take classes at the new facility.

Myrick said he was looking forward to meeting and collaborating with his colleagues.

“It’s possible [only] at a year-end reception when you see some of these people who are your coworkers, and now you’re going to run into them in the hallway, ”Myrick said.

He also said he believes the new space will improve the efficiency of office hours and student-instructor relations.

The transition to the new building will happen when classes and in-person activities resume in the fall semester, and Adams said the schedule will add an “extra layer” to the facility’s collaborative environment.

While the College of Communications will inherently dominate the new building, there will also be office space for the College of Liberal Arts. Both Myrick and Mozley-Bryan said they were excited about the possibilities and opportunities such a juxtaposition would allow.

Willard Media Center, multipurpose room "X"

A large decorative “X” which also acts as a support for the upper floors accentuates the windows of the multipurpose room on the first floor. From each room in the center, spectators can watch a variety of activities taking place elsewhere, including radio broadcasts, writing or studio recording.

But the new media center project – which was due to be completed by the fall semester of 2020 – has taken an entire additional year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Reed and Myrick.

Myrick said the coronavirus presented unique communication challenges that he and his team had to adapt to.

“It’s typical that you often meet in person,” Myrick said. “As problems arise on the construction site, everyone shows up, you watch them, you point your finger at them, you figure out what is the right way to go and you keep moving forward. COVID and social distancing have really changed the way this process unfolds. “

In a construction environment, Myrick said, the ability to communicate by indication is crucial, and the team had limited capacity to do so.

“You have to be more intentional in what you do, because a lot of what happens naturally when you meet in a group and point out something doesn’t happen when everyone is in a different place and you look at a screen, ”says Myrick. “I think that was probably the biggest difference or the biggest challenge.”

Myrick said the team finally got over these challenges – he said he felt everyone did a great job paying attention to detail and making sure every team member was on. the same wavelength.

As construction wraps up this summer, Myrick said all new technology is expected to be commissioned and incorporated into the facility by July 1, with finishes to be completed thereafter.

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