UT renovates the Jesse Jones Communication Center with more modern office space


Charlie Pearce

A student inspects construction on the Jesse H Jones Communication Center sixth floor Monday afternoon. Parts of the sixth and fourth floors are scheduled for renovation through August 20th.

Miles Hutson

The Jesse H. Jones Communication Center’s (CMA) appearance is changing, with renovations that will make its interior resemble The Belo Center for New Media across the street. 

Renovations on the sixth and seventh floors have already been completed, and construction is now in progress on the north side of the fourth floor and south side of the sixth floor. Bob Rawski, regional program manager for the UT system, said when the College of Communication’s new building, the Belo Center, was installed, it was understood that other communications buildings like the CMA would have to be renovated. The renovations will cost $7 million dollars.

“We’re taking existing office space that hasn’t been upgraded since the building was constructed,” Rawski said.

Rawski said while the renovations are taking place, UT will also take the opportunity to do maintenance on the building’s air conditioning system, which is expected to fail due to age, and its wiring system. Rawski said the maintenance upgrades, which will cost $3.95 million, should pay themselves back quickly because of the increased efficiency of newer air conditioning units. Construction crews have installed temporary units to continue heating and cooling while the new system is installed.

Though the construction is intended to improve the building, students and staff on the floors under construction said the noise and activity can be disruptive.

“There’s a lot of banging,” journalism graduate student Grace Sherry, a teaching assistant with a discussion section on the fourth floor, said. “I either have to yell, literally scream or wait for it to stop.”

Lisa Bedore, a communications professor affected by the construction, also said she found it disruptive. However, she said the construction crews seem to have reduced their noise levels.

“As annoying as it is, I think they’re doing a better job of taking us into account,” Bedore said.

Rawski said he and the project’s other managers attempt to schedule the noisiest work for off-peak periods.

“In this particular project we had too much work to do just over the break periods,” Rawski said. “[But] we’ve been doing a lot of the noisiest work nights and weekends.”

Renovations on the CMA are scheduled to finish Aug. 20.

Published on February 6, 2013 as "CMA renovations progress, mirror Belo's modern look".