As part of my part-time job with the communications team at The Media School, I found myself recently in a hardhat in the middle of the construction zone that is Franklin Hall.
In preparation to become the new home of The Media School, Franklin Hall has been under construction since 2014. Each time I’ve passed through the Old Crescent during the last year, I’ve eagerly tried to catch a glimpse past the red construction fabric.
I finally had the opportunity to tour Franklin Hall last Thursday while reporting on a visit from Belva Davis and Bill Moore. The broadcast journalism legends were on campus to follow up on their donation to the Black Film Center/Archive and check out the new Ken and Audrey Beckley Studio in Franklin Hall.
Not only did I get to sit down with two trailblazers in the journalism industry, but I also had a chance to be one of the first students to tour the new Media School building.
The most striking feature of Franklin Hall is the giant skylight above the central commons, which floods the heart of the building with sunshine. The skylight is equipped with digital shading, which can make the glass darker to block out light with the touch of a button.
Soon to be hanging above the commons is a colossal TV screen, which weighs more than a Volkswagen but uses only the energy of six hairdryers. The 23-by-12-foot screen can broadcast six different stations at once, which will make Franklin Hall the go-to watch party destination for anything from election night to NCAA March Madness.
Just beyond the atrium is the Ken and Audrey Beckley Studio. Equipped with cutting edge technology, the set is reminiscent of an industrial loft, but with a modern edge. Though the studio was unfinished when I toured, I could visualize how every corner of the set will be a camera-ready backdrop from any angle.
Even the windows in the studio feature groundbreaking technology. Because designers wanted to keep the windows on one wall of the studio as a backdrop, they were challenged with the task of controlling the light coming in from outside. The cameras and windows will be equipped with special filters that allow the camera operator to control the brightness seen through the windows.
While the renovation has involved many outside contractors, the ability to tap into the pool of talented design and technology experts already working at IU has been a big plus, said Jay Kincaid, the school’s director of facilities and technology. In addition to supporting the university and its employees, this initiative lowered renovation costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.
Franklin Hall is filled with groundbreaking technology that will enable students to learn and work like never before. But with all of the new, the building maintains a classic, traditional aesthetic that honors the original beauty and history of the 109-year-old building. I think I speak for all of my classmates and colleagues when I say I can’t wait to be part of this new chapter at The Media School.