Center for Media Innovation to move to West Penn


Photo by Jake Dabkowski

Center for Media Innovation

Written By Caitlyn Scott, Co-News Editor

Director for the Center for Media Innovation (CMI) Dr. Andrew Conte publicly announced plans to transfer the CMI to the West Penn building on Monday, leaving students with mixed reactions on the center’s new location.

Conte, who has been the director since 2016, hosted a “Design Charrette” to explain the reasoning for the move, along with discussing the new layout for the CMI.

“When we had opened the space [CMI], we had gotten a $2.5 million grant from the Allegheny Foundation to create the Center for Media Innovation. What’s happening now is that the YWCA building is selling the building, and the developer is buying the building to turn it into condominiums,” Conte said.

Back in July 2021, a proposal for the YWCA building to consist of a “20-story tower with 300 apartments” on top of the current complex was ratified by the Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment, according to the Trib.

The developer who has purchased the facility, City Club Apartments, LLC, has stated that they do not plan to completely demolish the entire building structure. Instead, they intend to use the existing YWCA and CMI building as the base for the apartment complex, with the main floor consisting of a “restaurant and the three below-ground floors to be used for a public health club.”

Along with the reconstruction, City Club Apartments said the tower would not use the entire vicinity already constructed in the YWCA building and would instead have a “narrow profile” and be pushed “approximately 25’ from the facade of the existing building on Wood Street.”

Currently, the YWCA consists of four stories and the attachment of the current CMI building, although three of the facility’s floors are below street view.

“That sale of the YWCA is supposed to go through sometime within the quarter,” Conte said. “Our lease on the space runs through the end of this calendar year [2022], and so our goal is to move into the new space hopefully by the end of this year.”

The Center for Media Innovation was first introduced to Point Park’s campus in October of 2016 under former university president, Paul Hennigan.

“Today, we are gathered to announce the Point Park University Center for Media Innovation. An academic laboratory and incubator, where faculty and students, along with professionals working on the cutting edge of new media, will collaborate to teach and learn and be a leader in media innovation,” said Hennigan at a press conference held on Oct. 21, 2015.

Since the building of the CMI, the center has provided students of all majors with access to television, radio and photography studios, as well as to multimedia newsrooms and presentation spaces. The space also hosted two major presidential election coverage events, which saw students from U-View, WPPJ and The Globe collaborating together.

With the move now becoming official, some students have expressed their dismay about the move of the CMI, wishing the facility could stay where it’s currently situated.

“If it were up to me, I would keep the CMI where it is,” junior broadcast production and media management major Nick Konopka said. “It is in such a prime central location on campus. I think that West Penn is so tucked away that people really won’t be able to appreciate the space, passing by. The CMI is great because the windows look right out onto the main part of campus where all of the action is happening, and the architecture of West Penn does not lend itself to that modern open floor plan that is the signature of the CMI; however, I know that it isn’t exactly our choice, as we are just tenants in someone else’s building. The contract is up, so there is probably not much that can be done.

Along with Konopka, senior journalism major Zoey Angelucci said she wishes that the CMI would remain where it currently stands, although she acknowledged the university’s predicament.

“I don’t agree with the move. I’m pretty upset about it. I love the CMI,” Angelucci said. “I think the purpose of the CMI is that it is a stand-alone building. I’ve spent a lot of time in the building and think it’s a great space. I also think it is a big selling point for media students to come here. However, I understand that it really isn’t the school fault, and they can’t help it.”

Despite their disappointment, students expressed understanding of why the move is necessary, not placing blame on Dr. Conte or the university itself.

“The move is certainly not the school’s or Andy’s fault.” Angelucci said. “Yes, it is very unfortunate. Personally, I am glad I’m graduating before the move. I’m lucky to have taken advantage of the CMI at its peak design. It’s an unfortunate thing, but it’s out of the school’s hands.”

In an official statement released by the university on Wednesday, Feb. 2, Conte stated that the CMI move will continue to play a vital role for new ideas and journalistic endeavors.

“This move into a permanent location will allow the CMI to continue its work of helping young people, journalists and the public to ensure that Pittsburgh has a thriving media ecosystem into the future,” Conte said. “Recent years have seen major disruption to local news, but also creative innovation. The Center will continue to play a key role in giving life to new ideas for maintaining and growing journalistic storytelling.”

Along with Conte, university President Don Green stated within the letter that he is excited that the CMI will now have a permanent home on the university’s campus.

“While the Center has delivered on its mission of training and supporting journalists, it also enriched the entire University with its multidisciplinary approach,” Green said. “I am thrilled we can establish a permanent home and allow the Center to continue its important work.”

For students who would be interested in wanting to know more about the CMI’s move, along with wanting to input suggestions for the facilities new home, another Design Charrette will be held on Friday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m. at the current CMI location on the corner of Wood Street and Third Avenue.