Putting Down Roots: The Paisano solidifies plans for a new building


When business mogul and philanthropist Red McCombs thinks of UTSA, he may call to mind the university’s football team, the increasing number of new degree plans, the quest for Tier One status or the expanding physical campus.
But he may also think about The Paisano, the independent student newspaper, which has served the UTSA community for 32 years.
McCombs has confidence in the future of this unique independent newspaper—the only one of its kind in the University of Texas system. So much confidence, in fact, that he has endowed the newsroom in The Paisano’s new home—the Paisano Media Center– with a gift of $100,000.
Scheduled to open in late fall on Roadrunner Way, across from the UTSA Main campus, the 3,000 square-foot Paisano Media Center will include editorial and business offices, a conference room, a screened veranda, and an education center for the Paisano Educational Trust’s collaborative middle school writing program. The complex also contains 600 square feet of rental space.
Viridian Development Solutions/ Timothy B. Cone, AIA, a local design-build firm will construct the project. Security Service Federal Credit Union will provide financing.
“Viridian is very excited to be a part of the development team for the Paisano Media Center. We are striving to design and build a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility that will serve the needs of the newspaper staff with minimum environmental impact,” said Cone.
“The drawings are nearing completion and construction should start soon.”
The project is the result of a two-year collaboration. During the fall of 2011, 15 senior UTSA architecture students in Professor Rick Lewis’ Systems Studio accepted the challenge of designing the new Paisano headquarters.
The students worked cooperatively to create a functional operations program, to conduct proposed building site analysis, and to determine spatial qualities needed for the newspaper’s operations, Lewis explained.
The challenge was to go beyond imagining a functional structure built on a tight budget to creating an architecturally relevant media center that would be easy to maintain and affordable to operate.
After reviewing the students’ individual design proposals, Paisano staff, alumni, and board members selected a winning design. This model was used during initial fund raising efforts.
“On the heels of early successes in raising development funds, design refinements were hammered out during the summer of 2012 leading to the project being picked up in the fall semester of 2012 by a team of seven architectural graduate students during their Technical Studio sequence of studies,” said Lewis.
“Intent on creating a sound preliminary set of construction documents for the project, the students were organized as if acting as a small professional office.
In just a matter of weeks of dedicated team work, students’ drawings became the basis for beginning the process of attracting a licensed architectural professional to carry the project forward in the critical stage of integrating engineering drawings, ensuring life safety integrities, and finalizing budget goals.”
Design in hand, Paisano editors visited McCombs to introduce him to the Paisano’s mission, to share their vision of the future, and to ask for his support.
McComb’s decision to gift the newsroom was influenced by the publication’s quality. During the meeting, McCombs described the Paisano’s newspaper and magazine as “First Class.” His gift provided an energetic kick-start to the project.
“I am excited about my gift for The Paisano Media Center. I understand my gift will be identified as the sponsor of the endowed News Room. This excites me because I would love to be identified with what I think is one of the best college publications I have ever seen. In any event, The Paisano will have my support as they continue on the path of excellence,” he wrote recently to Paisano Editor-in-chief Katy Schmader.
During her tenure, Schmader has spearheaded The Paisano newspaper re-design, its foray into magazine publication, and its new website.
“I have learned an incredible amount from my experience at the Paisano,” said Paisano Editor-in-chief Katy Schmader. “The office has been my home for two years, it will be exciting for future members of The Paisano to have a place of their own.”
UTSA’s Handbook of Operating Procedure requires all student publications to be independent. One of approximately 12 independent college newspapers in the country, The Paisano is self-sustaining through advertising revenue. The Paisano Educational, 501 (c)(3) entity is the publisher of The Paisano. The Trust awards approximately $20,000 annually to UTSA students.