New Cronkite Facility Activates Streetscape

Aug. 21, 2008

Walter Cronkite, the 91-year-old legendary CBS news anchor, sported his hard hat at a rakish angle for the groundbreaking of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in February 2007. An entirely new campus created in his name at Arizona State University (ASU) opens to 1,500 students this month. "I'm grateful beyond measure to those who made this dream a reality," says Cronkite.

This premier journalism education facility is a unique fast-track project designed by Ehrlich Architects of Culver City, CA. The six-story, 223,000-square-foot building in downtown Phoenix built of glass, metal panels, and masonry is the work of the award-winning California firm. Working with executive architects HDR Architecture Inc. and general contractors SUNDT Construction Inc., the entire design-build process from award to student occupancy took only 22 months.

Design principal Steven Ehrlich explains, "We have brought a burst of color and life to an emerging district in downtown Phoenix. This building will activate the street and instigate collaboration. The activity and energy inside the building will be broadcast to the community and beyond." The School of Journalism is part of ASU's emerging downtown campus - a joint venture with the City of Phoenix - and is located along the new light rail line.

Here are some highlights:

  • Massive 4K rear screen video projection built into the First Amendment Forum
  • Four broadcast-ready control rooms with Grass Valley switchers
  • Roof-mounted satellite dishes and microwave antennas for direct uplink/downlink\
  • Robotic cameras
  • Camera breakout boxes provided at the perimeter of the building to allow connection of broadcast remote trucks/remote camera crews
  • Extensive internal wiring/cabling to allow for high-speed data and broadcast capabilities from anywhere in the building
  • South façade integrates the pubic art component of Paul Deeb/VOX Studio -- mobile elements suspended within a solar chimney cavity animate as they interact with the rising column of hot air

On November 20, 2008, Cronkite will officially cut the ribbon and open the newly constructed School of Journalism and Communication named for him. The $71 million design-build project also launches the Cronkite News Service and the New Media Innovation Lab for students to inform residents on key issues. Eight/KAET, Arizona's PBS affiliate serving 80 percent of the state, occupies 76,000 square feet of the building.

PHOTOS of this facility: Bill Timmerman

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