USC’s journalism school moves to renovated building near Horseshoe from Coliseum

University of South Carolina journalism students and faculty will return to classrooms in August that have state-of-the art technology.

But the journalism school’s new home, in a renovated three-story building on the Horseshoe, will have an antiquated feature that students and professors likely will value as much as the new flatscreen TVs and iMAC computers — windows.

The school’s new home will be a boon for recruiting students and faculty, predicts Charles Bierbauer, dean of the College of Information and Communications.

The move is estimated to cost $25 million, including $18 million from the university for renovations and technology costs. The additional $7 million, which the journalism school is raising, includes $1.5 million for a studio in a greenhouse and other technology.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications, now in the former Health Sciences building, has about 1,500 undergraduate students across six majors: journalism, broadcast journalism, advertising, public relations, visual communications and mass communications studies.

Public relations student Caroline Skjoedt, 20, described the journalism school’s former home in the Coliseum as dreary.

Students taking classes focused on digital skills often could not get reception on their cellphones in the Coliseum, which housed the journalism school since 1969.

The journalism school’s new home is comfortable, and not so modern that “you feel like you can’t touch anything,” Skjoedt said.

Sunlight streams in the atrium of the renovated building, where seven TV screens will deliver the day’s news and display student work.

Inside the entrance, one wall of the building’s original brick exterior reminds students they are still on the historic Horseshoe in the heart of campus.

“The building blends the new and the old perfectly,” said Tanner, noting the contemporary design and industrial feel.

The Coliseum was “below the horizon,” out of sight to most of campus, Bierbauer said.

The higher visibility of the new building is a reflection of 21st century technology, Bierbauer said.

The building is nearly across the street from the Russell House student union. Previously, students had an uphill hike of roughly 10 minutes from the Coliseum to get to the restaurants in Russell House.

A broadcast studio and control room will enable senior students to produce a daily news show with state-of-the-art technology.

Outside the journalism school, a greenhouse broadcast studio still is being built. That space will be a glass-box studio similar to studios used by morning TV news shows.

Bierbauer said the space also could be used for news conferences held by university president Harris Pastides or if a faculty member is interviewed by the media.

“It’s a lot better than the dingy studio in the basement of the law school,” where interviews now are conducted, Bierbauer said.

Other technology features are more subtle but likely valued by students who attend class with more than a notebook and pencil.

Seats in an auditorium classroom have individual power outlet for students to charge their laptops, tablets or cellphones during classes.

Chairs and tables in classrooms have wheels designed for mobility and easily rearranging classrooms. For example, one professor may prefer a seminar setup while another may break out his or her class into groups, Bierbauer said.

The classrooms are designed “to be flexible in every respect for today and things we haven’t contemplated,” he said.

The renovated building on the Horseshoe is nearly double the amount of space that the school had in the Coliseum.

The new facilities will show prospective students it is a exciting time to be in communications, Bierbauer said.

“I’m not one who subscribes to ‘journalism is dying’ sort of epitaph,” he said. Instead, journalism now is practiced in different ways across multiple platforms, he said.

But a nearly five decade segment of the school’s story is dead.

“We have left the coliseum,” Bierbauer said. “Period.”

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.

USC journalism school

The USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications has moved to the former Health Sciences building near the Horseshoe from the Carolina Coliseum. Classes begin Aug. 20.

$25 million: Cost of the project

54,000 square feet: Size of the journalism school building near the Horseshoe

46 years: Time the journalism school was housed in the Carolina Coliseum

53 years: Age of the renovated Health Sciences building that now houses the journalism school

1,500 students: Number of undergraduate students

50 students: Number of graduate students

6: Majors the school offers — in journalism, broadcast journalism, advertising, public relations, visual communications and mass communications studies

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC