AUSTIN, Texas -- Journalism students at the University of Texas now have a state-of-the-art facility to use as they learn their craft.
The Belo Center for New Media opened in August and was officially dedicated at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Named in honor of the vital role that Col. A. H. Belo played in the early days of Texas journalism, the new building provides a more open, interactive environment for more than 4,600 students in the College of Communication. The adjacent Jesse H. Jones Communication Center was built in 1974 to serve just 1,000 students.
The five-story, 120,000 square foot Belo Center cost almost $55 million and features auditoriums, interactive classrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a café. The center also has a "transparent multimedia newsroom" complements the School of Journalism's new digital-based undergraduate curriculum. It allows faculty members, parents and prospective students to see the work that's being created for the School's student-produced news website, Reporting Texas.
Free building tours were scheduled to be held early Thursday afternoon prior to the dedication ceremony.
President and chief executive officer of A. H. Belo Corporation Robert Decherd says the investment will help classic journalistic principles flourish in a digital media world.
"This building represents an extraordinary investment in us by President Powers, Chancellor Cigarroa and the Board of Regents, not to mention the wonderful Belo folks in Dallas," said Roderick P. Hart, dean of the College of Communication. "The fact that the Belo Center is as beautiful as it is functional only adds to our wonderment. This is the most important thing that has happened to us since the Jesse Jones Complex was opened in 1974. We must now do all in our power to remain worthy of our benefactors."
The new facility contains innovative design and sustainability features, and the College is applying to receive "silver certification" from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
It uses recycled and regional building materials, motion-sensitive lighting and translucent glass office walls that filter sunlight. Its landscaping is irrigated from a rainwater collection system and from condensation collected from the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Find out more about the Belo Center for New Media at http://communication.utexas.edu.
Belo Corp. is the parent company of KHOU.
Click the player below to watch a time lapse of the construction: