FAMC dorm upgrades progressing

Upgrades converting Belvin-Buchanan Hall to a dorm designed and reserved for college of fine arts and mass communication students are on schedule for completion for fall 2015.

Brynn Castro | The Houstonian

Brynn Castro | The Houstonian

The area directly beneath the residence that once functioned as campus dining hall Café Belvin is currently under renovation, transforming the space into a multifunctional facility for college of fine arts and mass communication majors. The space will include a theatre, sound studios, computer lab, dance studio and conference rooms for student use.

Assistant director of Residence Life for student discipline and risk management Wayne Bennett said the renovations have progressed immensely since their start.

“They’ve framed everything out, they’ve put up dry wall [and] they’re doing the texturing,” Bennett said. “I think they’re going to start the painting here in the next week or two. It’s come quite a ways and our audio-video equipment should be getting installed after spring break.”

The additions to the residence will serve multiple concentrations within the college.

An 80-chair theatre with movable seats will include a stage and large projection screen with 7.1 surround sound capability. Lights and sound will be operated out of a control room in the theatre, which also houses multiple storage rooms to aid in the space’s reconfiguration.

Bennett said the customizability of the theatre and other areas is an important aspect in letting students use the space to their needs as well as a method of learning what students use most in the creative community.

“We wanted to provide a blank canvas for students to create in,” Bennett said. “[We want] feedback, what you like, what you don’t like.”

The renovations also include three sound isolation studios, a collaboration studio, recording studio and dance rehearsal studio. A digital studio featuring two PC and two iMac computers loaded with high-end software as requested by each department of in the college will be available for student use.

One of the more state-of-the-art aspects of the renovation is the Virtual Acoustical Environment (VAE) Acoustic Studio, where students can program the room to nine different acoustic environments. In the VAE Studio, students can record and playback their performances.

A student gallery where visual art students can showcase their work is also under development. Bennett said art will periodically be rotated through the gallery in order to keep the pieces fresh.

Shakejwak Nyakwol, a housing ambassador at the department of residence life, said students must be accepted to the college of fine arts and mass communication to apply to live in the dorm. Further, the application process is no different than applying for any other on-campus residence.

“Basically, the way the application works is from Oct. 1 to July 1 students have that time to fill out a housing application,” Nyakwol said. “There’s a $200 deposit that comes with the application. They should receive an email sometime in April. It’s going to give them a time slot that opens up in May. In May, that’s when they can select the room that they want to live in.”

Nyakwol emphasized Belvin-Buchanan’s residents can only be fine arts and mass communication majors, but students in the college may live elsewhere if they choose.

“Now, with the [fine arts and mass communication] program, they can choose to live at Belvin, but they are not required to,” Nyakwol said. “It is a perk of being a fine arts and mass communication major to live at Belvin.”

Currently, the dorm is an all-female residence with two rooms sharing a bathroom and each room housing two residents. When the dorm becomes exclusively for the college of fine arts and mass communication, the residence will be co-ed.

Belvin-Buchanan is located directly behind Old Main Market and just north and downhill of campus’ center.

The price for the newly upgraded dorm, is $2,044 per semester.

The current renovations are only phase one, according to Bennett. After approximately a year of use, the space may expand into phase two, where the theatre would be expanded and other popular aspects of the creative community would be updated.

Bennett said phase one will allow students to use the space and provide feedback. Then, they will examine how students use the space and continue to develop from there.



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