Belvin Buchanan Residence Hall will become a co-ed dorm exclusively for students in the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication starting fall 2015. It will also include a theater, digital recording studio, dance studio and more.
Currently, the dorm is an all-female residence hall open to students of all majors. The basement of the building, which was formerly a cafeteria, has been under construction since spring 2014 and is beginning to wrap-up.
The new space will consist of several useful technologies, such as virtual acoustic environments and a large auditorium along with the ability to record.
“Residence Life had a brain storm session about what to do with the space a little over a year and a half ago and this [idea] came up,” Wayne Bennett, assistant director for student discipline and risk management said. “Work started at the end of last spring and all this year we have been renovating.”
The space will also have a dance room with mirrors, a collaboration room set up similar to that of a conference room, a theater with 80 movable theater seats and surround sound, green screens, an art gallery, a digital recording studio, high definition video equipment and more.
“As of right now, nothing will change in the actual rooms,” Jessica Tackett, assistant director for marketing and guest services of Residence Life said. “One floor will remain all-female and the rest will have certain wings.”
Residence Life approached professors and deans within the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication to gain feedback on the idea. They also asked for opinions and suggestions for equipment. Eventually, a committee formed and began overseeing the process.
“When [Bennett] first mentioned it to me, I was really excited,” Thomas Garrett, associate professor of mass communications said. “I know of colleges in California that have things like that where the dorms had themes and the parking lot looked like backstage. I certainly got the concept.”
The structure can house up to 205 students.
“We are very excited about this because it will give these students an opportunity to work together and a space to make their own,” Bennett said. “It will be an awesome space for them to collaborate with each other.”
Everything in the space will accessible to students of the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication. For instance, a music major could use the stage to practice performing or the dance room with mirrors. There are no limitations as to who can use what equipment, as long as they fall under the college.
“All of the rooms in the space are not being specified for a specific major,” Garrett said. “They are all common because it’s not a solo experience. These majors take a community. The arts all complement each other, too. We wanted a common work space that everybody can use. It’ll be an atmosphere where community is built by working together on inspired projects.”
Residence Life is hoping for the space to be open to residents 24/7, but the schedule is still tentative. Additionally, a name for the space has not yet been determined.
“I think that once students realize what’s going to be available to them as fine arts and mass communications students, we will fill Belvin up to capacity and there will be a waiting list for students who want to live in that living-learning community,” Brian Miller, associate dean of College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication said. “A large part of the idea is that it’s a creative community full of different creative studios and we hope that students living together will cross over– that there will be music students who begin thinking more about the visual arts and dance students thinking about music more and they will come up with new and innovative ways to collaborate and work with each other and come up with art with a different twist.”
Those who already live on campus will have the first opportunity to reside in Belvin after selections open up in February. Afterwards, the option will be open to freshmen and transfer students. All students majoring in these programs will be allowed to use the space, but a resident must accompany non-resident majors in the space at all times.
“I think this living-learning community is going to put Sam Houston on the map in yet another way,” Miller said. “It’s fairly unique in Texas, and I’m excited about it. It’s going to be another jewel in the crown at Sam Houston and our students are going to love it. We look forward to getting this done and letting people see how creative we can be.”