Media Hall nearly complete

Jessica Sasseen

The wait is almost over.

After exceeding the original budget, discovering hidden underground utilities and adding an auditorium, the School of Journalism and Broadcasting is almost ready to move into its new home — Media and Technology Hall.

Plans for the new building, located on Normal Drive, have been underway since fall 1998, with construction beginning in April 2001.

Construction manager Ed West said the building is in its final stages of construction. Dry wall work is being finished, then the walls will be painted. Wallpaper and flooring will be some of the last projects.

Journalism and broadcasting courses are held in four buildings, and faculty offices are housed in three of those buildings.

The new building will bring the department under one house. In addition to classrooms and offices, the building will feature nine computer labs for student use. Eight of the labs will have new computers.

The building will also have a 266-seat auditorium for lectures.

The new building will house Information Technology offices, a new Board of Regents meeting room and the university server.

Photography adviser James Kenney is excited about moving into the new building.

“We’ll miss being on the top of the Hill,” Kenney said. “But on the other hand, we are moving to a great building with great facilities. I look forward to it.”

Overcoming obstacles has been a huge factor with the project.

Construction bids for the building were originally 25 percent higher than budgeted, setting back the groundbreaking ceremonies by over a year.

Jo-Ann Albers, director of the School of Journalism and Broadcasting, said the original bids were simply too expensive for the university.

She said, to fall into the budget constraints, the building had to be redesigned. She said the first axes came to the original auditorium and to the three-level walkway that connected to the academic complex.

After a second round of bids came in under budget, the auditorium was added back to the plans and more space was given to Information Technology.

When ground finally broke on the new building, unexpected utility lines were found, causing even more setbacks. Contractors were given 60 days to fix the problem.

After all of the delays, the building is scheduled to be finished no later than May. Furniture and supplies for the new building may be moved in at the end of April, West said.

Tom Hiles, vice president for Institutional Advancement, hoped naming rights for the building would have been sold by now.

“We’ve had progress and a proposal out, but to date, we have not been able to close that,” he said.

Hiles said the nation’s poor economy has hindered the search for a $5 million donor.

“We’re talking about a very large gift,” he said. “We feel strongly about maintaining the integrity of the naming progress. We’re not going to name it for less money than we’re seeking.”

Naming rights for rooms in the building have been sold. Landmark Community Newspapers Inc., a chain based in Shelbyville, donated $25,000 for the Print Journalism Coordinator’s office.

Two confidential $50,000 donations were made for naming rights to the advertising and public relations seminar focus group rooms.

Neil F. Budde and Virginia B. Edwards donated $125,000 for the computer lab classroom. The couple also made two $25,000 donations for the faculty office and photography wet lab.

Budde is a Western alumni who created the Wall Street Journal Online publication.

Reach Jessica Sasseen at [email protected]