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Hammering away to deadline

  • By Newmark J-School Staff

Since FEBRUARY 2006, construction crews have been busy transforming two vacant floors of the old New York Herald-Tribune building on West 40th Street into the new home of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

With the first students set to arrive for classes in the last week of August, miles of cables have been strung in a day and classroom walls have materialized in an afternoon. Not even the thick layers of insulation surrounding the broadcast center and editing suites can keep out the din of hammers and screwdriver guns whirring their way to deadline.

The School of Journalism will occupy the third and fourth floors of the building, which used to house the press and composing rooms of the Herald Tribune, winner of 14 Pulitzer Prizes during its storied history. The building, which stretches from 40th Street to 41st Street between 7th and 8th Avenues is now owned by the CUNY Research Foundation.

The design of the 57,000-square foot school reflects its mission of preparing students for the ongoing convergence of print, broadcast and interactive journalism technologies. The centerpiece is an 80-seat wireless newsroom with a 20-foot multimedia wall, adjacent to a digital television and radio broadcast center. Five editing suites will be supplemented by a 14-seat edit classroom, all outfitted with Apple’s Final Cut Pro editing software. CUNY TV, assisted by the architectural firm of Harvey Marshal Berling Associates, oversaw design and planning for all broadcast and multimedia technology.

Classrooms can reach out anywhere in the world via wireless connectivity, teleconferencing, online interactivity and live streaming. Instructional space and furnishings are highly flexible to allow students to work in small teams, as an entire class or individually. A café and mini lounges scattered throughout provide informal space for relaxing or working. A library/research center will house 1,500 donated journalism books, newspapers and magazines, which will be supplemented by online subscriptions and databases available to students day or night on their Apple laptops.

Consistent with the current push for transparency in news, faculty and administrative offices, seminar rooms and portions of classrooms are constructed of glass and aluminum. A floating stairway of glass, stainless steel and terrazzo joins the third and fourth floors. “Green” technologies were used to improve air quality, save energy, dampen sound and maximize natural light. Thomson Architects designed the $14 million project and John Gallin & Son oversaw construction.

The School of Journalism is not the only new tenant on the block. Right next door on Eighth Avenue, the new 52-floor home of The New York Times is rapidly rising. The CUNY Office of Budget and Finance recently moved into new offices in the Herald Tribune building. And within walking distance of the School, more than 14 national news organizations make their homes.

“This building has great DNA for a journalism school,” said Dean Steve Shepard, “and we predict great results from our students.”