SOJC Shares Allen Hall Updates, Illuminating a High-Tech Future

People look at graphics of the proposed "SOJC ExPerience Hub" included in the Allen Hall renovations and new features. People could also use a virtual reality headset to look through a virtual rendering of the spaces (Anakin Welp/Emerald). 

The University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication exhibited proposed renovations for Allen Hall on Friday intended to carry the UO’s journalism program ahead of competitors in terms of innovation.

People got a feel for the upcoming changes expected to be completed by fall of 2019 through a virtual reality headset and graphics.

The proposed $3.2 million updates, dubbed the Experience Hub, will begin construction in the summer of 2019. The renovations will focus on the blending of technology and media, with access for students to immersive and social media features and curriculum, such as virtual reality, 360-video, analytics, gaming studies, a “social media hub” and an “immersive media lab.”

“The social media lab is going [to] allow students to do real time social media analytics, the podcasting studio is going to allow for easy podcasting, and the immersive media lab I think is going to be a great place for researching different forms of immersive media,” said building coordinator Tom Rozinski.

“We’re retaining a lot of what’s here because they’ll all be flexible spaces with rolling tables and chairs,” Rozinski said. “We won’t be losing classroom spaces, but we’ll be gaining all these different things.”

Additionally, existing spaces like student services and waiting areas will be expanded and improved.

The renovations will be chromatically thematic as well, with different color schemes added to spaces as visual representations of the different facets of media.

“Start out with social media, which is bright, shiny yellows and reds and oranges,” Rozinski described, “and as you move through the building, it gets more isolated, introspective, so oranges and yellows and bright greens. There will be LED lights and paint and graphic.”

Rozinski says the renovations originated from the desire of Juan-Carlos Molleda, the dean of the SOJC, to have more experiential, hands-on learning.

According to Rozinski, the improvements are important innovations for competition in journalism education and research.

“A lot of other journalism and communication schools are incorporating social media labs, immersive media labs, so in part to keep up and be competitive, we have to incorporate those elements,” he said. “We’re really about preparing the students for the professional environment as it stands now, which is really about high technology.”

Maxwell Foxman, media studies professor who attended the presentation, says the approach represents a “whole new way of looking at emerging media.”

“It’ll be great for teaching how to make and build this type of medium, and it’ll be a great place to play.”

Rozinski said the next steps in the project’s timeline include meetings with student groups over the next two months and regular news reports circulated through the campus community and online.

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