March 25, 2010

Belo Center for New Media breaks ground

Austin, Texas - The University of Texas at Austin broke ground today on the Belo Center for New Media, which will house the College of Communication and the KUT Public Broadcast Center.

The $50.6 million, five-story, 120,000-square-foot building, across from the College of Communication on the northeast corner of Dean Keeton and Guadalupe streets, will augment teaching and research space, and expand the existing footprint of the College of Communication at the northwest edge of The University of Texas at Austin campus. The west wing of the building will be home to the KUT Public Broadcast Center.

The Belo Center for New Media will feature state-of-the-art classrooms and lecture halls, student office and meeting space, as well as large auditorium spaces for introductory classes, film showings and conferences. Signature spaces in the building will include a multimedia digital newsroom, an agency-grade "creative room," where advertising students can present and critique creative work, and a cafe.

"While the media environment changes from moment to moment, the core values of good journalism span the ages and the platforms," said Robert Decherd, chairman of The Belo Foundation of Dallas and chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of A. H. Belo Corporation, who participated in the ground-breaking ceremony. "I'm proud that the Belo Center for New Media will play a significant role in not only training future journalists, but in supporting students and academics in examining the role of media in society."

"The Belo Center for New Media will serve as a crossroads for people and ideas. It will connect students with each other, faculty and practicing professionals through flexible space and innovative teaching," said Roderick P. Hart, dean of the College of Communication. "The Center will enable students to combine traditional methods and progressive media to shape the ideas and develop the techniques that will change the face of communication."

The KUT Public Broadcast Center will be in a two-story, 20,000-square-foot wing. Designed to engage the community on a deeper level, the space brings Studio 1A - one of the most famous recording and broadcasting studios in Austin - out of its rarely seen basement location to become Performance Studio 1A, a 72-seat, glass-walled space that will incorporate the community into some of KUT's 300 annual in-studio performances.

Other features of the KUT Public Broadcast Center include: a community engagement room to promote daily interaction between KUT and the public via forums, workshops and events, a street-level outdoor stage overlooking a performance lawn and a producer commons that will bring together - for the first time - KUT's newsroom, on-air hosts, music producers, online producers and interns to collaborate.

"KUT has become one of the nation's most remarkable and innovative stations and I am proud to be a part of this groundbreaking celebration," said Vivian Schiller, president and CEO of National Public Radio. "KUT is a rich resource for Central Texas, providing high-quality news and a vibrant music mix that reflects the distinctive character of this incredible community. Today marks a milestone not only for KUT, but also for the advancement of the entire public media eco-system."

In addition to Decherd and Schiller, speakers and special guests at the ceremony included: James R. Huffines, former chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents; Amy Meadows (BS '87), vice president and executive director of The Belo Foundation; Melania Melikian, advertising senior and president of the Communication Council; William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin; and Stewart Vanderwilt, general manager of KUT Radio.

"This new, world-class facility will enable KUT to become a daily destination - not just on the radio dial - but a place that engages the community in an immersive media and learning experience unlike any other," said Vanderwilt.

The Belo Center for New Media honors the third generation of Belo Corp. leaders - Joe M. Dealey (BA '41), H. Ben Decherd (BA '36) and James M. Moroney, Jr. (BBA '43) - whose grandfather, G. B. Dealey, established The Dallas Morning News on behalf of A. H. Belo in 1885.

The Belo Center for New Media was announced in September 2007. The majority of the gift - $12 million - is from The Belo Foundation with the balance coming from Robert W. Decherd and Maureen H. Decherd (BA '73), the estate of James M. Moroney Jr. (BA '43) and the Jim and Lynn Moroney Family Foundation. The gift is the largest donation ever made by The Belo Foundation and was the first pledge made toward building the new center.

Additional contributions were made by alumni and friends of the college, including John (BJ '59) and Jane Barnhill, Kay Hopper, Karen Elliott House (BJ '70), Deborah Howell (BJ '62), Jeff (BJ '84) and Anne Hunt, Marsha (BS '91) and Robert (BBA '87) Jones, Ardon (BBA '81) and Iris (BS '82) Moore, Donald (BBA '76, JD '79) and Gina (BBA '76) Reese, Neill Walsdorf Jr. (BS '82) and Michael Wilson (BJ '75), and Michelle Garland.

KUT is in the midst of an $11 million capital campaign to build and equip the KUT Public Broadcast Center. Early contributions have come from the Brown Foundation, Inc., Patrick Cantilo, Jennifer Carloye and George Huntington, the Mattsson McHale Foundation, Dr. Nona Niland and the Niland Foundation, Kacy and Scott O'Hare, and the family of KUT founder Bob Schenkkan.

The Belo Center for New Media and the KUT Public Broadcast Center were designed by Lawrence Group Architects of Austin, in association with Graeber, Simmons & Cowan. Flintco, Inc. is the construction manager for the project.

For more information, contact: Erin Geisler, College of Communication, 512 475 8071.