News: New Digital Media Arts Building: a Community Effort

Photo Credit: Becca Sanchez

The inside the new Digital Animation and Video Studio, including the Facebook Wall and the new iMacs donated by Facebook

Yesterday evening, the Foundation for the Future, Facebook, and the M-A administration held the dedication of the new Digital Media Arts Building, a.k.a. the I-wing. In addition to providing aesthetic enhancement of Menlo-Atherton’s campus by means of its minimalistic yet elegant façade and peaceful tree-lined walkway, the building also embodies the willingness of the Silicon Valley technology community to promote and incorporate the technological arts in the local public education system.

When Facebook moved its headquarters to Menlo Park in 2011, it wanted to integrate itself into the local community.  Cindy Folker, the Executive Director of M-A’s Foundation for the Future, contacted Facebook in 2011 to alert its officials of an opportunity; while the construction of the Digital Media Arts Building was well under way, the new building was still in need of equipment. She communicated with Grady Burnett, Facebook’s Vice President in Global Sales and Operations, who had graduated from Menlo-Atherton twenty-one years ago.

Facebook then donated $96,000 to the Foundation of the Future to equip the Digital Animation and Video Studio with thirty-two state-of-the-art iMacs. At the ribbon-cutting, screens displaying dozens of video and animation students shouting “thank you Facebook,” were visible, as the community showed its appreciation of the donation.

As Mr. Burnett explained, he and Facebook hope for students to be educated, excited, and equipped technologically at school, and feel that the Digital Animation and Video “room is the best way to do it.”

Multiple other community organizations across the peninsula and the state also contributed to the building. The Foundation for the Future raised $1.7 million to contribute to the construction and equipping of the I-wing.  Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gave the Foundation $3 million in 2009 upon the building’s conception along with $900,000 worth of government-granted bond measure J’s.

John Giambruno teaches his Video Production and Digital Animation classes in the I-wing’s new Digital Animation and Video Studio. As Mr. Giambruno told me from his microphone in his sound-proof recording studio equipped with a sound-deck, mixing-boards, a powerful Mac Pro, six monitors, and many other things one can twist, push, and pull: “Facebook’s contribution allowed this lab to have pretty much everything it would need to be state-of-the-art.”

Dave Fischer, father of an M-A sophomore, was impressed at the state of the studio and believes that it is “good for Silicon Valley” because it helps students become savvy with cutting-edge technology and “prepare[s] them for college,” which would ultimately perpetuate the Silicon Valley intellectual community.