Excitement is high at the USC School of Cinematic Arts for the completion of a new building that will house the Institute for Multimedia Literacy and the Interactive Media Division, in addition to other programs.
According to Douglas Wellman, assistant dean of facilities and operations for SCA, construction on the so-far unnamed building is running ahead of schedule and is expected to be completed in December or January, although the building will not be used until next summer. The design of the building will be similar to the other buildings in the SCA complex.
“The new building will be in the same style as the previous buildings that began construction in 2007,” Wellman said. “It will continue the theme that combines stucco and stone with a Spanish-tile roof.”
IML Director Holly Willis said the new building will provide a wide variety of spaces to accommodate different learning activities and will allow students and faculty to interact across dozens of screens.
“We are very excited about the incredible potential created by the state-of-the-art learning labs,” Willis said.
With the construction of a new facility, the IML, which offers an honors program and a minor, seeks to add a new major in digital media and culture. The IML was founded in 1998 as an educational resource dedicated to changing forms of media and networking.
“We hope it will be approved and available to students in fall 2013,” Willis said. “The new building will become a terrific new site for this new major.”
In addition to an expanded curriculum, some students are looking forward to seeing the IML gain more classroom space on campus.
“The thing I’m looking forward to most about the new building is just having our own space, as many of our classrooms are becoming pretty cramped,” said Chris Swiatek, a junior majoring in interactive entertainment. “The construction of the new building is vital, I think, in the growth and expansion of the interactive program.”
In addition to the IML, the new building will serve as a home for SCA’s IMD and the department’s Game Innovation Lab, both of which are currently located at the Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts on Figueroa Street. Tracy Fullerton, the Game Innovation Lab’s director, said moving into the same building as the IML will have benefits for both programs.
“Having our game design faculty and students working right next to our researchers in creative media … will mean that that work will cross-pollinate and influence each other in new and innovative ways,” Fullerton said. “Because we’re now part of the Cinematic Arts Complex, we are going to be even more integrated into that community.”
The building will also include laboratories, research spaces, offices, classrooms, a seminar room with floor-to-ceiling projection ability and an interactive gallery in the lobby. Fullerton said the showcase space will feature gestural tracking and touch screens as a way for students to display their projects in a public setting.
“The building itself will be ‘aware,’” Fullerton said. “Sensors are being embedded to track the various systems and visitors will be able to interact with the building via Twitter.”
Scott Gowin, a senior majoring in interactive entertainment, said he is eager to see how students use the resources in the building as gaming becomes more popular.
“I may not have much opportunity to use the new building,” Gowin said, “but I look forward to what the next generation of students will do with the monumental resources that are sure to be provided to them.”
The building will also house the media arts and practices Ph.D. program, online multiplayer game design, interactive architecture, immersive, mobile and environmental media, crowd-sourced cinema, transmedia storytelling, alternate reality games and augmented-reality and mixed-reality experience design.