Kuhlin Center receives outstanding design reward

Kuhlin+Center

Kuhlin Center

Abby Shifley and Abby Shifley

The Kuhlin Center received an outstanding renovation/modernization award from the American School & University magazine. The application for the award was sent in by the architecture company that oversaw the project, Champlin Architecture, Barbara Shergalis, director of the office of design and construction, said.

According to the magazine, the renovation is “a lesson in sustainability and effective shepherding of financial resources.”

The Kuhlin Center was known as South Hall before its massive renovation. Shergalis said first-year journalism students, “weren’t here to see what South Hall used to look like.”

The inside of the building had to be completely redone, which included new windows, plumbing and the addition of an air conditioning system. Some senior officials of the University wondered why the building shouldn’t be torn down, Shergalis said. An analysis determined it would be more cost effective to keep the structure of the building and undergo a large renovation.

The project was still very expensive, about $15 million, but Shergalis said that the investment made sense.

“We don’t build new buildings every 5 years,” Shergalis said.

In response to Shergalis, Brian Swope, assistant director of the office of design and construction, said that the Kuhlin Center is a building that will be beneficial for media and communications students in the long-term. Swope said that they had a national expert come in to assess the work that was done during the renovation. The expert said that the technology in the Kuhlin Center rivals the technology of a television network.

“It’s on par with the latest and greatest technology, it’s high-end,” Swope said.

Shergalis said that Provost at the time and current President of the University, Rodney Rogers, initiated the vision that something needed to be done for the School of Media and Communications. The school was formerly in West Hall, a building that wasn’t in much better shape than South Hall, and was recently torn down. The Kuhlin Center provides many more opportunities for students, said Shergalis.

Shergalis said there are two brand new sections of the building that were added during the renovation: the studio space and the convergence lab. According to University’s description of the Kuhlin Center, the lab can be used for multi-media purposes and encourages collaboration and the studio space includes video and audio production suites.

Shergalis said her favorite part of the Kuhlin center is the modernization of the interior. Before the renovation, South Hall was very dark and the corridors were very narrow. Now, the Kuhlin Center is generally very bright and open.

Shergalis also said that the Kuhlin Center was not very expensive compared to some of the other buildings that received awards in the same magazine. This feature is impressive considering the Kuhlin Center has more technology in it than any University building ever.

Dr. Terry Rentner, professor in the school of media and communications, advocated for a new building when she the director of the school at the time. Rentner said her two favorite features of the Kuhlin Center are the entrance and the classrooms.

Rentner said she loves the “excitement that you get when you first walk into the lobby.”

As for the classrooms, the technology in them help a lot with teaching and Rentner said that she makes good use of it. She often uses the technology for video conferences with guest interviewees within the classroom. The computer labs in the building are also very helpful because they also have a conference table in the center of the lab. This feature allows for versatility within the classroom

Rentner said she also loves the new offices in the Kuhlin Center because they are bright and cheery and have comfortable chairs.

The Kuhlin Center also serves as a space for the University’s nationally-ranked forensics team and the NFL Journalism and Communication Boot Camp in the summer, Rentner said.

The renovation of the Kuhlin Center was possible through the generosity of Michael and Sara Kuhlin—University alumni.