New building to house interactive media

Construction on Phase III of the School of Cinematic Arts reached a milestone with the placement of the highest beam on a new 40,000-square-foot building, which will house the Interactive Media Department for Games, the Institute for Multimedia Literacy and the interdivisional program in media arts and practice doctoral program.

Beaming · The highest beam on the new cinematic arts building, which will house the interactive media department, was installed on Saturday. - Yasamin Yeganeh | Daily Trojan

The building will be the first time the interactive media department has its own space.

Douglas Wellman, assistant dean of facilities and operations at the School of Cinematic Arts, said the new building features state-of-the- art technology, with flexible spaces designed to create an environment that is able to evolve based on the changing needs of the majors in the department.

“Flexibility is critical in this particular building due to the nature of these programs, which may radically change in the next four or five years,” Wellman said. “The space allows for it to adapt to whatever is on the horizon for these majors. It features colorful, comfortable, open experimentation space that can be reconfigured to meet whatever the current demands are.”

The construction plans for the new building involved input from faculty and students in the department.

“Faculty members came into committee meetings and communicated what needed to be included in this new facility, based on interaction with students,” Wellman said. “The faculty was very much aware and supportive of what students wanted.”

The initial plans and financial backing for the new building stemmed from filmmaker and USC alumnus George Lucas, who had intended for an interactive media building to be constructed when he made his initial donation to the School of Cinematic Arts.

“George Lucas is very much involved and was a big proponent of digital arts and technology way before any other filmmakers,” Wellman said. “His vision was to have a facility dedicated to these particular digital disciplines, which he feels is very important for equipping graduates with skills they will need in the field when they leave here.”

Tracy Fullerton, director of the Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab and associate professor of the Interactive Media Division, said it is exciting to finally have a unified space where faculty is easily accessible and students in the department are able to interact with one another.

“Overall, the best part about it is that there is gong to be so much more space,” Fullerton said. “It will benefit students to work more closely with their peers and it will allow faculty members to be more accessible to students.”

The new space will feature more advanced technology and workspaces, which will enhance students’ overall learning experience, Fullerton said.

“The game innovation lab is moving over there and will be twice the size it was before,” Fullerton said. “Now we are also going to have a lab for all advanced game projects, a 3-D theater and a lab for graduate students, enabling them to have a place to work on projects all year long.”

Cinematic arts students said they are excited for the construction of the new building, realizing the importance for all majors in the school to have their own space, equipped with the latest technology to become leaders in the film industry.

Skye Optican, a junior majoring in critical studies, said the building is another example of the School of Cinematic Arts’ dedication to providing students with diverse spaces tailored to each major.

“It’s great that these majors finally get a creative space where they are able to work with one another more closely, interact and build projects together,” Optican said. “The cinema school buildings are equipped with the newest technologies in order to benefit students.”

The building is expected to be completed by January 2013.

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