Phase two of ‘Sverdrup Re-Imagined’ scheduled to start in January

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The renovations will focus on media production facilities in the School of Communications, such as a new soundstage and audio suite.

Starting in January, the west wing of the Sverdrup Complex will begin its “Sverdrup Re-Imagined Phase II” plans, which will usher in renovations to the building.

“The university continues to invest in the future of the School of Communications students of all majors by providing a modern, state-of-the-art learning environment,” associate professor Gary Ford said.

In 2018, the Sverdrup complex was completely redesigned during Phase I of its “Sverdrup Re-Imagined” plans. While Phase I focused on classrooms, student services and public areas of the building, Phase II will expand on media production facilities.

“Phase I of the remodeling was important; Phase II will be even more impactful,” School of Communications Dean Eric Rothenbuhler said. “This will provide our students with a state-of-the-art facility, unique in the midwest, with technical facilities that aren’t even available yet in commercial houses.”

The dean of the School of Communications, Eric Rothenbuhler,
presents the “Sverdrup Re-Imagined Phase II” floor plan to students at a meeting on Nov. 30. Students were then able to ask
questions about the design and construction. Photo by Cas Waigand.

When the west wing reopens in August, just in time for the 2022-2023 academic year, Webster students will be welcomed with a plethora of new additions.

A new soundstage twice the size of the current TV Studio will include an LED video wall for virtual production, a workshop for scenes, props, models, prosthetic makeup, circuit building and more.

The new audio suite will include three control rooms, a live sound room and three isolation booths, featuring both analog and digital audio technology. One of the control rooms will be optimized for sound and picture work, so that students in film, television, video production, game design and animation can work with audio students.

A shooting space for photo and video will work for both journalistic and commercial use. Four classrooms will be computer labs optimized for video post-production, animation, game design and photography. There will be technical ear training labs,  another classroom, an office and practice room for forensics and debate, an editing booth and a photography gallery.

To top everything off, there will be gathering spaces for students to work between classes and on weekends and evenings.

A member of the Audio Engineering Society, Brandon Just, believes the renovation will provide their organization with more opportunities for hands-on learning. However, he worries about what the renovations will take away during the reconstruction process. One of many inconveniences students will experience during the west wing’s reconstruction is rooms like Audio Studio A becoming unavailable.

“The new technology will give us a new perspective on the evolving equipment of the audio world, allowing us to actually work on the equipment of the future and not just learning about it,” Just said. “The idea of this all being done by August 2022 seems unlikely, considering all the things they’re planning. I’m also concerned with how compact the studio experience [will] be next semester with Studio A being temporarily unavailable.”

The entirety of the west wing will be inaccessible until construction is complete. In the meantime, the classes affected will be dispersed across other rooms in Sverdrup or other buildings. This includes SV 123, 131, 135, 139, 254, 256, 258, 260 and 262.

Classes held in the TV Studio will be moved to the media commons in SV 112. Audio Studio A and live sound will move to SV 201 while Studio B will be relocated to SV 206. The darkroom, photography studio and loading dock will be inaccessible.

While the inconveniences are numerous and it will certainly take students some getting used to, the final product will leave a lasting impact on the university and the School of Communications, according to Rothenbuhler.

“Everyone should know that this is an exciting project and will give us genuinely unique facilities,” Rothenbuhler said. “[Sverdrup Re-Imagined Phase II] will provide our student’s unique experiences and advantages, now and in the future.”

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