On September 26th, Montclair State University celebrated the opening of one of the most technologically advanced broadcast and media production facilities at any university in the nation. The new School of Communications and Media rivals any broadcast network facility, including those just miles away in New York City. The showcase is a place where College of the Arts Dean Daniel Gurskis says, “Our students will gain the competitive advantage of mastering technology that not only meets industry standards, but in many instances, goes well beyond.”

The building features three TV studios, three TV Control Rooms, a Film Studio, a fully working Newsroom with control room (capable of being fully automated), a Flashcam room (allowing for professors or other local professionals to be connected directly to any major network via fiber or skype), and two Screening Theaters, plus a Foley Studio, and Dance Studios. In addition to the facility’s focus on visual media, the college’s three radio stations now have several studios, audio labs and a performance space for live bands. And yes, there are classrooms.

Principal Mark Grassi says, “We designed a truly remarkable facility that features the first 4K fully functioning TV Studio. The forward thinking approach of having interconnected studios and control rooms to allow for concurrent productions of the same program will greatly benefit the academic program. The technology is designed to be able to become a disaster recovery site for any large name-letter station from New York City.”

Since offering its first courses in fall 2012, the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University has established a national reputation for preparing students for career success in rapidly evolving industries. In the new facility, students, faculty and professionals in the state and the metropolitan region gain access to the latest production capabilities.

Senior Consultant David Barnett remarks, “This was my first project working with serious broadcast studios and production systems. The most impressive part is that we designed a high-end 4k commercial grade studio that also functions effectively as a learning space without sacrificing quality or functionality.”

By linking Morehead Hall with Life Hall, the new 105,000 SF facility creates a high-tech, multimedia home for the School that reflects the University’s commitment to preparing the next generation of professionals to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving communication and media industry.

President Mark Valenti says, “Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media will be a signature building on campus. Its Mediterranean exterior belies the state-of-the-art broadcast and production capabilities inside. Many of the systems are strategically designed to act as emergency back-ups for Manhattan-based broadcasters, and, of course, that’s also a primary job market for MSU graduates.”

The new facility provides unprecedented access to Sony’s professional-grade 4K television and production equipment. “We’re well established with the Hollywood filmmaking community and we were looking to have a similar presence on the East Coast,” said Theresa Alesso, vice president of Sony’s Solution Services group. “This collaboration with Montclair State and The Sextant Group was the perfect opportunity to combine our production expertise and commitment to education to create a unique experience for students and faculty.”
Successful journalism, film, television and radio productions are the result of intensely collaborative teamwork. The new School of Communication and Media home’s integrative and innovative design fosters increased opportunities for creative, multimedia collaborations by bringing faculty and other industry professionals, academic programs, students, The Sextant Group and Sony together for the first time under one roof.

Principal Norm Russell adds, “Technical lighting systems throughout are all LED with digital network-driver dimming and controls systems, the most efficient and flexible lighting equipment available today. The stamina necessary to make a sustained, major commitment is not to be understated. I am so proud of our team for showing that kind deep strength.”

Senior Systems Designer Terry Robinette was impressed with Montclair State’s people. “The IT folks were highly knowledgeable and equally demanding. I was the 2nd or 3rd designer on the project, and wanted to ensure that no information was lost between designers. Developing a solid working relationship with Montclair State helped us successfully work through all challenges.”

When asked about his favorite part of the project, Lighting Designer Steve Cooper said, “The interconnectivity across all the TV and Film studios and the distribution around all the production spaces made for some complex programming, but will provide great versatility for the users to manage and run their productions. My biggest lesson learned was to stay in constant communication with the electrical engineer be absolutely sure that the electrical engineer is on board with our design, clear on our needs, and that they incorporate the information into their 100% CD set.”

Acoustician Stalin Vera immersed himself in reviewing the mechanical system for all the production spaces — trace noise levels from the air handlers and volume control boxes up to supply diffusers and return grilles and duct dimensions for low airflow velocities, duct silencer performance, lengths of internal duct liner, duct gauges, flexible ductwork, and diffusers and grilles selections. Vera comments, “This helped determine the necessary noise control treatments to meet the recommended background noise level criteria for each space.”

“Our world-class facility strengthens the School’s reputation as a national leader by offering students and the New York metropolitan area film and media community unprecedented educational and professional opportunities,” said School of Communication and Media Director Keith Strudler.” According to Strudler, students will also get real-world, hands-on training in a contemporary, broadcast-ready newsroom, interactive collaborative learning spaces and high-tech multimedia labs. Inviting public spaces, informal learning spaces and team rooms are configured to foster creative teamwork.

Cannon Design is the architect.  Image courtesy Montclair State University. Read writer Steve Strunsky’s article on here.