Art, education, media to converge in Public Media Commons

Representatives from St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 | KWMU, UMSL, Grand Center Inc. and the Nine Network of Public Media attend a groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 30 for the Public Media Commons. It will be built on Olive Street in St. Louis between the UMSL at Grand Center and the Nine Network of Public Media buildings.

Ground was broken Tuesday for a one-of-a-kind space where art, culture and public dialogue come together in an open environment using interactive technology, large-screen projections, performance spaces and a lot more.

St. Louis’ Public Media Commons, 3655 Olive St. in Grand Center, is expected to be completed next year. The announcement was made by the three project partners: Nine Network of Public Media, the University of Missouri–St. Louis and Grand Center Inc.

Nearly 100 people filled what has been the parking lot for the Nine Network for the groundbreaking of a new destination space located between Nine Network and the new UMSL at Grand Center building, home of St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 | KWMU, 3651 Olive St.

“This will be the only place in the country where arts, education and public media come together in an interactive outdoor space specifically designed to engage people in the cultural life of the community,” said Jack Galmiche, Nine Network’s president and chief executive officer. “It will be a powerful expression of how we envision the future of public media.”

Galmiche said the entire east wall of Nine Network would be re-skinned along with a south-facing wall of the Sheldon Concert Hall and used for large-screen projections. The commons will also contain performance stages for small groups, multiple seating areas, green space and a window into Nine Network’s studio. The space will also become part of a pedestrian corridor running through Grand Center linking the district from Grandel Square on the north to Lindell Boulevard on the south.

UMSL Chancellor Tom George said he was thrilled with the university’s recent move to Grand Center and was looking forward to the many media, arts and education partnerships being created.

“We are particularly excited about the classes we are offering here in Grand Center in the rapidly expanding field of new media,” George said. “The new Public Media Commons will provide a showcase for our students and faculty.”

The new $12 million UMSL at Grand Center building officially opened its doors in September. St. Louis Public Radio occupies approximately two-thirds of the building. UMSL has dedicated the other third to interactive classrooms and editing rooms for classes in new media.

Financing for the Public Media Commons was provided by Emerson, Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Edward Jones, Interco Charitable Trust, The Trio Foundation of St. Louis and the Richard A. Baker Foundation.

The project was designed by a team from Powers Bowersox Associates Inc. led by Ben Gilmartin, AIA, who previously worked on the Lincoln Center Promenade. Other elements of the Public Media Commons were designed by Electrosonic, Inc.; dlandstudio, LLC; Randy Burkett Lighting Design, Inc.; and HDR, Inc. Electrosonic provided audio/visual design and implementation on the Newseum in Washington, D.C., and Millennium Park in Chicago.


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