The University of Georgia, Athens – Grady College of Journalism

  • area / size 20,945 sqft
  • Completed 2015
  • Menefee Architecture designed the Grady College of Journalism as a revitalization to the University of Georgia located in Athens, Georgia.

    Mid-century modern campus buildings are now over fifty years old and nearing then end of their serviceable life. Considered modern in their day, many now seem dark and uninviting, and campuses across the country are renovating these facilities to address the dire need for updated building systems, optimized envelopes, and need to support evolving trends in higher education toward flexible spaces. The University of Georgia, Grady College of Journalism was an opaque, brick box poised for reinvention in the heart of campus. Dark, windowless spaces and concrete block corridors left the students seeking other more inspiring campus destinations for gathering, exchanging ideas, and enriching experiences beyond those that occur within the traditional classroom lecture environment.

    The upper floors of the Journalism building now offer views of North Campus; the original 1962 brick façade was replaced with curtainwall on the north side and stairwells in the fall of 2010. This first phase transformed lifeless and orientation-less corridors into light filled passages with breakout gathering spaces outside the classrooms and office suites. The circulation and seating zones are articulated in both floor and ceiling planes, while simple aluminum storefront partitions define the vertical surfaces. Each horizontal storefront band serves a functionally specific role: opaque at the floor level for power and data management, translucent at mid-level to allow both privacy and natural light, and transparent at the top for daylight and views reaching well into the interior core. Accent colored walls orient occupants to the day lit stairwell exits on opposite ends of the loop corridor for intuitive navigation.

    Universities embrace the notion that spaces, by virtue of their design, signal how they can be used and what learning opportunities they will foster. Renovated in the spring of 2015, the Peyton Anderson Forum’s bi-fold door blurs the boundary between inside and outside to facilitate learning opportunities and collaboration beyond the boundaries of both the traditional classroom and even the building itself. By rearranging mobile furniture, the Forum easily converts from student lounge, to lecture space, to interactive classroom. It has even functioned as a pop-up TV studio providing live coverage of major events such as the Presidential Election.

    These two renovations have dramatically changed how students use and perceive the Journalism building. It now provides vibrant and versatile destinations where students can gather and collaborate before and after class. In fact, a significant percentage of the students utilizing these open and inviting spaces are from other majors.

    ArchitectMenefee Architecture
    PhotographyJohn Clemmer