Construction begins on J-School’s new home

Posted on: 1/31/2014; Updated on: 2/10/2015
By Megan Sexton, 803-777-1421

The University of South Carolina’s journalism school will return to the center of campus next year when it moves into its new building designed to fit with the new media landscape.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications celebrates its “groundbreaking” Monday (Feb. 3) at the former Health Sciences building at Greene and Sumter streets. The 52-year-old brick building will become the new home for the school, which has been housed in the Carolina Coliseum since 1969.

The $25 million project will transform the building into an open, engaging environment where about 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students will pursue degrees in journalism, advertising, public relations, visual communications and mass communications studies. The new building will provide nearly double the space for journalism school.

“We've physically and philosophically outgrown the Coliseum. It's an inflexible blockhouse, but we're in a time when the media landscape is vast, evolving and unconfined by real or virtual walls,” Dean Charles Bierbauer says. “We also think communications is central to any and every part of the university.  And so, the school should be central and visible in its features and functions.”

Classes are expected to begin in the 54,000-square-foot renovated building in August 2015.

USC’s journalism school is one of the oldest in the country, dating to 1923. Its history of growth parallels the development and expansion of media in America.  The school moved to the newly constructed Carolina Coliseum in 1969, leaving crowded mid-campus quarters. By the 1990s, it had increased greatly in enrollment, added television studios and computer labs and, again, outgrown its space, Bierbauer says.

The school has worked with The Boudreaux Group, a Columbia architectural firm with considerable experience at the university and in repurposing buildings, to design a facility with an eye to current and future needs. 

Thanks to a $1.5 million pledge in 2011 by an anonymous donor, the school has also been approved to build an approximately 1,400-square-foot “greenhouse” studio adjacent to the school’s main building.

The completed facility will also house the administrative offices of the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies.  The college’s other component — the School of Library and Information Science — will remain in Davis College near the university’s central Horseshoe.  The move will bring the college’s two schools into close proximity for the first time since they were merged in 2002.

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