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Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

Point Park University Rolls Out Media Education Plans

Point Park University

Point Park University is set to turn a vacant downtown hot dog shop into what it is calling a state-of-the-art learning center where students will merge their energy, talent and ambition.

The Center for Media Innovation will fill the building on the northwest corner of Wood Street and Third Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh and will feature a ground-floor multimedia studio with floor-to-ceiling windows reminiscent of New York City’s Times Square.  

“State of the art technology and cutting edge delivery of media platforms will provide the impetus for students to learn in a real life environment,” Point Park University President Paul Hennigan said while announcing the new development Wednesday.

Hennigan believes the large windows will “spill life, light and energy onto the sidewalks and streets.”

The school has been in the throws of a land acquisition and building effort for more than a decade, an effort that has begun to transform much of the downtown section of the Boulevard of the Allies, according to Pittsburgh City Councilman Daniel Lavelle who thanked Hennigan for the university’s commitment to downtown Pittsburgh.

“The vibrancy that this media center is going to bring to the Wood Street corridor, to the academic village, to downtown is really going to be unparalleled,” Lavelle said.

Lavelle admitted it is always a concern, from a tax base standpoint, when a nonprofit organization takes over a property previously owned by a commercial endeavor, but he says in this case, the return will be much greater than the loss in property taxes.

Pittsburgh has a long history of innovation in media according to PPU Board of Trustees President Anne Lewis.  Pittsburgh was the home of the first newspaper west of the Alleghenies, the nation’s most powerful black newspaper, the first radio station and an innovator in public broadcasting. 

“Today marks another major step along that journey,” said Lewis of the creation of the PPU Center for Media Innovation.  “Which I believe has the potential to bring Pittsburgh the global reputation as a media innovator that it has long deserved.”

The facility is to include television and radio broadcast studios, photo studios for both journalistic and artistic work, a multimedia newsroom and open space. University officials hope it will be used as “an event space for networking and educational sessions with newsmakers and industry leaders” as well as “a photo gallery, offering another space for students to showcase their work.”

PPU will also break ground for the new Pittsburgh Playhouse in December and has recently completed work on a new student center in the former YMCA building and additional student housing in in the form of the Boulevard Apartments at 322 and 312 Boulevard of the Allies.