Moody - A Brand New Old Building
The Moody Learning Center is a landmark building on the San Antonio College (SAC) campus. Its illuminated sign can be seen from a distance, and if you’ve attended SAC anytime since 1967, you’ve probably had a class or two in this white high-rise.
The building, initially named the Library-Classroom building was erected in 1967-68 under President of San Antonio Union Junior College, Wayland P. Moody. Upon his retirement in 1973, the building was renamed the Moody Learning Center in honor of President Moody’s service to the district.
INTERESTING TRIVIA – The “San Antonio College” sign on the top of the Moody Learning Center is a familiar SAC landmark, but it was an afterthought, added in part so that SAC could be easily identified by visitors to the Tower of the Americas, being built for the 1968 World’s Fair. Dr. Clyde Nail, SAC’s Vice President at the time, wanted a sign that could be seen from the telescopes on the observation deck of the Tower. One of the suggested designs was a revolving sign, illuminated both day and night, which would read, “The San Antonio College – Using Your Tax Dollars to Educate.”
Major renovations to the Moody Learning Building, or MLC as it is referred to, were completed in July 2013. The newly renovated “Moody” was rededicated on Thursday, October 10, 2013 in a ceremony featuring a special video presentation of the building’s history, guest speakers including former President of the College Dr. Jerome Weynand, and a ceremonial unveiling of a new plaque marking the completion of renovations.
The Rededication Ceremony
President Robert Zeigler began the ceremony by introducing the Moody Rededication Film, narrated by Mr. David Mrizek, SAC’s Vice President of College Services. As indicated by President Zeigler, Mrizek had a key role in the renovations process as he served as the liaison with the building’s contractors. The video describes the journey the Moody has taken over the past couple of decades.
The building was initially supposed to be a four-story building that would house the library. As state funds became available during the early days of construction, the plan shifted to make the building a seven-story high rise. Mrizek’s narration provided a summary of the history of the Moody and the College’s multiple attempts at renovating. Mrizek credits J.O. Wallace, the librarian at the time of construction, who helped design the initial building layout.
Significant funds became available for major renovations with the 1989 CIP. At that time, some 13 programs and departments inhabited the building’s seven floors. As Dr. Zeigler recounted, the walls in the classrooms were as thin as paper and sound carried. In 1989, College leaders initially thought of demolishing the building and starting from scratch. However, as Mrizek detailed in the video, projections showed that it would cost a tremendous amount more to tear down the building than to renovate due to its solid construction. In the film, Mrizek claims the Moody is the safest place to be in case of severe weather, a hurricane or tornado. He goes on to mention, “If we’re under threat of nuclear attack, go to the Moody building because it’s not going to fall down.”
INTERESTING TRIVIA – It is said that the Moody Learning Center—originally named the Library-Classroom building when it was first erected—is a certified bomb shelter. The total cost of the original construction was $4.25 million.
Though some renovations occurred with funds from the 1989 CIP, it was not until 2006 that any changes of note took place. It was the 2006 CIP funds that made it so that departments could be relocated to other, newer buildings. Still, not all academic departments moved out. Currently, the Psychology/Sociology Department still inhabits the sixth floor.
Due to the major renovations, there was quite a bit of shuffling. Departments are now settled in their new homes:
Floor 1 – Counseling & Advising, Veterans Affairs and Disability Support Services
Floor 2 – Main Lobby, Café Moody, Library Reference Collection, Reference Desk, Group Study Rooms, Reserve Collection, Reserve Desk, Interlibrary Loan, Microfilm Periodicals, Library Instruction Classrooms
Floor 3 – Library Circulating Collection (check out books & media), Circulation Desk, Group Study Rooms
Floor 4 – Library Special Collections, Quiet Study Area, Group Study Rooms, Performance Area
Floor 5 – Library Faculty & Staff Offices, Acquisitions, Cataloging, MEGA Lab
Floor 6 – Psychology/Sociology Department, Department of Creative Multimedia Services
Floor 7 – Student Learning Assistance Lab, Office of Technology Services (OTS), Technology Service (Help) Desk
INTERESTING TRIVIA – The building actually has a “secret” eighth floor. The mechanical room is located on the eighth floor and is only accessible by key. When looking at the building, you can see it; it is a small “box” on top of the roof.
The Building Today
The 40+ year-old building was in need of extensive remodeling. In addition to an antiquated escalator system, the building suffered from compounding HVAC issues and was in need of upgraded fixtures and furniture. In 2011, SAC’s College administrators approached the Chancellor, Dr. Bruce Leslie, and the Alamo Colleges District Board of Trustees to explain the severity of issues associated with the historic building. After a quick trip to sell bonds in New York City, the funds earned were made available for the necessary upgrades and renovations.
In total, about $18 million dollars were spent to fully renovate the building from top to bottom; the project took about 2 years to fully complete. As to not take the building offline completely during the renovation process, Mrizek created a phasing plan. “The key to the phasing plan was to utilize the fourth floor as a swing space,” Mrizek said during the taping of the video.
As part of the upgrades, the building was outfitted with new modular furniture throughout. Many of the renovations, however, are undetectable to the casual observer including the HVAC upgrades. In response to many complaints received over the years about the escalators not working, about $2 million of the total $18 million budget was spent to install a new escalator system throughout the building.
INTERESTING TRIVIA – In 1967, SAC gained national recognition for the escalators in the Moody—then named the Library-Classroom building. An advertisement placed by the Otis Elevator Company touted that SAC had the largest academic escalator system in the Southwest.
The Glory of Moody
The rededication ceremony concluded with some remarks from former President of San Antonio Union Junior College (SAUJC), Dr. Jerome Weynand. Dr. Weynand was a good friend and colleague of Dr. Moody and was the College’s Registrar at the time the building was constructed in 1967. Weynand later became President of SAUJC and therefore had many stories to share with the audience. Weynand is the author of “San Antonio College: In the beginning, 1925-1956.” He shared some of SAC’s rich history with the audience during the ceremony.
Dr. Bruce Leslie, Chancellor of the Alamo Colleges District, and Dr. Yvonne Katz, Assistant Secretary of the Alamo Colleges District Board of Trustees, also offered greetings and congratulated the College’s administration for the newly renovated building. After all the speakers made their remarks, the group ceremonially unveiled a rededication plaque to mark the completion of renovations.
Interesting Trivia – The original plaque from 1967 was rescued by faculty member, Bruce Davis, during the initial renovations that began with the 1989 CIP funds. Davis found the plaque in a dumpster and held onto it in his office until 2013. The old plaque will be installed on the building along with the new rededication plaque.
Some of the new features, like the creation of Café Moody are great additions to the building. What really makes the building so drastically different and impressive, however, is the second floor lobby. During early conversations about the building’s massive renovations, it was determined that the lobby would benefit from an open concept. Previously, you could not see from one end of the building to the other. Now, the space has become a very popular place for students to gather, study, meet, and dine. Early reports state that Café Moody is doing “big” business.
“The results are fantastic,” Mrizek says in the film. Because of these necessary changes, thousands of students will be able to enjoy the newly renovated building for many, many years to come.
Moody Learning Center Rededication Film – video
Moody Rededication Ceremony (October 10, 2013) – video Moody Rededication Ceremony (October 10, 2013) – video
‘Moody By The Numbers’ Trivia – PDF
Rededication Ceremony Photo Album – Facebook
Photo Caption: SAC President Robert Zeigler, Alamo Colleges District Trustee Dr. Yvonne Katz, and Alamo Colleges District Chancellor Dr. Bruce Leslie stand with the new rededication plaque. Photo by: Leonard Ziegler, campus photographer.