Wallis Annenberg Hall, the new five-story, 88,000 square-foot building next to the Pertusati University Bookstore, will be open for the first day of classes on Aug. 25. With the help of over 3,000 donors, the building has been fully-funded through Annenberg’s current $150 million fundraising initiative. Approximately 80 percent of donations came from alumni, with the rest coming from parents, families, corporations and other organizations for a total cost of $59.3 million for the building.
Inside, the building features 23 new classrooms, which will be used for various journalism, communication and public relations classes. It also has a 160-person auditorium, professional-quality broadcast and radio studios, two faculty neighborhoods and two open research neighborhoods, which are collaborative spaces designed to increase faculty interaction. According to Associate Dean of Operations James Vasquez, one of the most exciting features is the “360 room” in the converged media center, which has a 360-degree assignment desk with a media halo of digital screens above it providing a live stream of news across multiple platforms. A television studio within the newsroom will include anchor desks and a greenscreen, as well as broadcast-quality cameras for radio programming and potential use online.
One of the central features of the building is called the forum, described as, “a four-story atrium with skylight, open seating and media display tower,” which will serve as the lobby for the building. A new cafe will also be open to accommodate students during study hours. The former Annenberg building was serviced by the Annenberg coffee cart, but surveys conducted by the school found that students wanted a full-service café so they wouldn’t have to pack up in the middle of their work to go to Seeds or Trojan Grounds.
The old Annenberg building will still be used for classes, as well as faculty and administrative offices. The building, however, is also undergoing a process of phased innovation, with upgrades happening in several stages.
Junior print and digital journalism major Allison Bajet said that one of the things that she admires most about the school is, “[The] Annenberg culture of trying to improve and upgrade as technology does,”
Though it will be open for the first day of classes, the official opening ceremony for Wallis Annenberg Hall is scheduled for Oct. 1.