LSU Students Design News Studio for WVLA TV

(Baton Rouge) –WVLA NBC 33 has selected a set designed by two LSU interior design students as the model for its new studio, which will debut next month when the station launches a nightly newscast. The design by seniors Tonya Dollar, a native of Birmingham, Ala., and Bethany Sphar of New Orleans, was chosen because it reflects the unique look and feel of Baton Rouge the station wants to convey.

“When we were talking about creating a new set we were trying to figure out how we could best represent Baton Rouge,” explains Mike Crew, WVLA’s consultant. “We thought, ‘Who better than the School of Interior Design at Louisiana State University?’”

Station executives contacted the College of Art+Design and challenged the 35 fourth-year students in the interior design program to a competition. Students were given just two weeks to design a set that was both contemporary and also reflective of Baton Rouge’s traditional Southern style. Students had the option of working individually or in pairs, and submitted their work the first week of December.

“When we looked at the designs we were amazed at the level of quality, sophistication, and creativity,” Crew said. “There wasn’t a single one we couldn’t have used on the air.”

The jury that selected the winning entry comprised WVLA station managers, interior design department faculty, and a local design professional. Dollar and Sphar received $1,000 with their first place prize. They will also be interviewed on the station’s first newscast to discuss their design.

“We were very pleased with the outcome of the project,” said T.L. Ritchie, chair of the School of Interior Design. “It was a great way for the students to do community outreach and also to have experience with real-world schedules and deadlines.”

Runners-up were also recognized as part of the competition. Maria Ruiz, an international student from El Salvador, received a $500 second-place prize; and, sisters Ashley Ferrand and Lauren Ferrand of Metairie won the $250 third-place prize.

“They did a great job,” said Matthew Dunn, assistant professor of interior design who team taught with assistant professor Jun Zou the studio course that participated in the competition. “I don’t think the station executives expected to get such a high level of sophistication.”

Construction crews are currently in the process of implementing the winning design, making only minor modifications for technical considerations. The new set will debut in early January.