New PBS Center Opens Its Doors


NEW HOME FOR PBS: The Public Broadcasting service is now located in the ACC highland campus. PBS used to previously located at the University of Texas. Photo by Mars Leslie

Mars Leslie, Staffer

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has been a household name to Americans for decades, according to PBSWarn. PBS is centered around providing entertaining programs and documentaries all over the states, focusing on creating tight-knit communities in large cities like Austin. PBS owns the radio station KLRU in Austin and operated out of the University of Texas. Recently, the decision was made to relocate into a new building to expand their services by Sept.

The new headquarters for the organization are on Austin Community College (ACC)’s Highland campus, a development of recently completed buildings around the long abandoned Highland Mall. The on-campus location was exactly what PBS Austin Chief Executive Officer Luis Patiño and his staff were looking for. “Our agreement with the University of Texas and the School of Communications had expired.” Patiño said. “As we explored finding a new home for Austin PBS, this opportunity to be a part of the new ACC development at the old Highland Mall became a reality.”

PBS Austin is known for its participation in local colleges and involvement with students in television program production, according to PBS. When this opportunity arose, Patiño said it seemed like the perfect way to bring production expertise to people who may not be able to afford attending a university like the University of Texas.

“The vision is that we integrate our media services and expertise into the role that ACC provides in educating and
teaching the newest cohort of media professionals both in front and behind the camera,” Patiño said. “Our staff together with their teachers will work together to help ACC TV elevate their professionalism and leverage our team’s years of expertise in production and content creation.”

The television content that PBS Austin produces often feature cultures that are local to Austin and central Texas.
Having the ability to provide this outreach and represent all of Austin, but also the small and rural communities outside of the city is something that the organization values, according to Austin PBS.

“Our role is unique in that we operate at the intersection of community service and media distribution,” Patiño said. “We have the privilege of producing and creating local community focused content that showcases our diverse community.”

All was going to plan with the move and production until Feb. 2021. PBS Austin staff were getting ready to move
over to the new building, and then the Uri winter storm hit. After winter storm Uri, damage issues and other factors
caused a large inconvenience and pushed back the expected opening date to almost years later. Chief Operating Officer
Lori Bolding, was managing the opening throughout all the issues.

“We began construction in 2019 with an expected completion date of Sept. 2020,” Bolding said. “We experienced a few delays due to the pandemic pushing the expected move-in date to February 2021. There was significant damage to the building during the Feb. 2021 winter storm thus delaying the project another 18+ months.”

Delays weren’t the only problem Austin PBS ran into while moving, according to Bolding. Finding adequate funding to
support the new building became a challenge as well.

“In January of 2019 Austin PBS set a 12 million dollar fundraising goal to raise the funds needed to acquire the
furniture, fixtures and equipment required to complete a project of this magnitude,” Bolding said. “Austin PBS will
pay back the construction cost to ACC for their space over the term of the lease.”

Senior Vice President Sara Robertson experienced the move firsthand. Roberston has been with PBS Austin for nearly 17 years and understands how important the old location is and was to PBS employees.

“The move has been emotional,” Roberstons said. “Some of our staff had been working at our former studio
for 40+ years. That is a lot of memories. Now that things are about done, we are all excited to get back into offices and for new opportunities.”

After the issues were resolved and final details were complete, the new PBS Austin headquarters was opened to
the public. The organization hosted several grand opening events from Aug. 25-27 in the new building at the corner of
Wilhelmina Delco Drive and Clayton Lane.