December 9, 2016

SOC getting a new look

The Sverdrup Complex has looked much the same since its construction in 1988, but a renovation is in order.

The description of the building on the Webster University Library page says Sverdrup was state of the art for a communications building when it was built 27 years ago. Dean of the School of Communications Eric Rothenbuhler said the redesign is intended to remove any issues the building may cause in the education process.

Rothenbuhler said one goal of the redesign process is to make the work done in the school of communications more visible.

“We want to have visitors coming through the building saying, ‘Wow, look at that. What are they doing in there? I want to know more about that,” Rothenbuhler said.

The school plans to carry out this goal by increasing interconnectivity. According to floor plans in the office of the school of communications, much of the school will be opened up and made for multiple uses. Lobbies will be given additional space, and Rothenbuhler said this will allow them to hold speaker series and other events while also being inviting to students from all schools of the university.

In addition to making the building more inviting, Rothenbuhler said renovations will  improve education for various types of classes and teachers. He said there will be multiple classrooms with different layouts and furniture.

For animation and illustration classrooms, sturdy, stationary tables will be used so they do not move in the process of drawing. For other classrooms, tables and desks will be on wheels so teachers can set up the room to best suit their needs. This means some rooms will remain relatively unchanged, like theater-seating type classrooms, while others will come with more versatility.

The improvements will not be entirely cosmetic, however. Rothenbuhler said the school also plans to future-proof the technology.

“We want work done in the collaborative multimedia room on the first floor to be immediately accessible in the post-production room down the hall,” Rothenbuhler said. “And we will over-build the network so we have the bandwidth and the capacity for whatever comes across in the future.”

The project team recently  finished the conceptual design process, which was made possible by the combined work of teachers, students, administration and V Three architectural studios. Rothenbuhler said V Three was chosen for their experience, which includes collaboration with professional media companies (Learfield sports and radio stations in both New York and St. Louis) and educational facilities (public relations and media center buildings on Washington University’s campus).

The school of communications, V Three and the administration are now in the logistics and planning stage, which Rothenbuhler said is not as fun as conceptual design.

“It’s fun to think about what you want,” Rothenbuhler said. “But then you have to think about how to budget it and how to schedule it.”

Rothenbuhler said they are still unsure of when the project will begin, and that interfering with classes is a risk of which they are aware. He said because of the nature of the communications program, many of the classes need specialized equipment, so they will try to avoid restricting work in the classrooms.

Rothenbuhler said the school has two options for a construction schedule Construction will either begin during the summer or winter breaks, or it will be carried out in phases. The ultimate goal is to affect the smallest number of classes possible.

Rothenbuhler said implementation of the plan is still too far off for a construction schedule to be set.

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