College of Communication celebrates formal opening of Belo, start of new media age

Miles Hutson

The College of Communication celebrated what officials said is a new building for a new age in a dedication ceremony attended by campus leaders, building designers, distinguished guests and students Thursday.

The Belo Center for New Media, which cost $54.8 million to construct, features five stories, space for more than 4,200 students and has hosted classes since the beginning of the fall semester. The building is intended to be environmentally friendly, featuring abundant natural lighting and energy
efficient systems.

The Belo Foundation, a charitable organization associated with the company that owns the Dallas Morning News, donated $12 million for the construction of the building. Other sources of funding included $3 million from private donors, $10 million from KUT, which occupies part of the first floor of the building, and $30 million in University debt, which will be paid over the course of 30 years. It is named in honor of Col. A. H. Belo, founder of the Dallas Morning News.

Berkley Knas, former president of the Communication Council, said the Belo Center fulfills needs she and other student leaders identified in 2006.

These needs included student demands that more classes be held in College of Communication facilities rather than buildings across campus, and a common area for students to associate with each other.

“When the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center was built in 1974, it was built to accommodate 1,000 students,” Knas said. “We were at 4,200 students.”

The Belo Center has kept the style of the Jesse H. Jones building but has a more open setting. Principal architect Thomas Lekometros said the design was inspired by the wishes of Roderick Hart, dean of the College of Communication, who wanted the building’s design to reflect a new media age.

“This building isn’t an answer then but a series of questions,” Hart said. “How will we consume information in the years ahead?”

Hart said he believes the answers to this question will arise in the Belo Center.

Robert Decherd, CEO of the Belo Corporation, said he thinks this function of the building is one of its most important because journalism is changing at its most basic level. Decherd made a $1.5 million donation toward the Belo building.

“University buildings are considered permanent,” Decherd said. “This one … creates a sense of place for the College of Communication’s distinguished faculty and its students to delve into new media.”

Printed on Friday, November 2, 2012 as: College hosts belo's formal opening