The UCF Center for Emerging Media is housed in a building which started life as the Orlando Expo Centre. Over the years, the Expo Centre hosted conventions, exhibits, trade shows, meetings and banquets in its close-to-everything downtown location. It also served as the centerpiece of the Orlando Centroplex, which included the original Amway Arena, home to NBA’s Orlando Magic.
As the convention business moved south to the newer and much larger Orlando Convention Center on International Drive, the Expo was ripe for a new mission. In 2004, video game producer Electronic Arts (EA) came to UCF with a unique challenge. It needed to hire hundreds of first-rate video game programmers, artists and video-game producers to keep pace with the growing demands of the video game industry. Other video game studios and companies around the country were experiencing similar shortages. Could UCF help?
In April 2004, EA, the Economic Development Commission and other industrial partners helped UCF secure funding from the State of Florida to develop a graduate-level video game design program and FIEA (aka the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy) was born. In October 2004, the City of Orlando formed a partnership with the university to provide a home for FIEA in the former Orlando Expo Centre and in August of 2005, the school opened its doors.
Soon after, a variety of production-oriented state university programs began migrating to UCF’s thriving new downtown showplace. Joining FIEA at the Center for Emerging Media were Flying Horse Editions; Citylab Orlando (from the University of Florida) and a variety of film, art and digital media programs from what would soon become the UCF School of Visual Art and Design. CEM also hosts Gallery 500, the EA Innovation Lab and Studio 500, a professional facility offering stages for film, video and motion capture projects.
With it’s rapid growth and popularity, the Center for Emerging Media is poised to serve as the educational centerpiece of Orlando’s new Creative Village, which will build upon the success of Orlando’s digital media industry by transforming the original Amway Arena site (now leveled) into a 68-acre mixed-use, transit oriented, urban infill neighborhood in the heart of downtown Orlando. When complete, this high quality, sustainable neighborhood development will support a diverse and dynamic mix of uses including up to 1,200,000 square feet of office/creative space, 500,000 square feet of higher education space, 25,000 square feet of K-12 education space, 1,500 residential units, 150,000 square feet of retail/commercial space and 225 hotel rooms.