SEATTLE, WA. A six-year fundraising, location search, design and build program culminated in April 2016 with the completion of KEXP 90.3 FM Radio’s 25,000 sq. ft. $15 million state-of-the-art broadcast/live production complex. Nestled in the shadow of Seattle Center’s iconic Space Needle, KEXP remains an essential part of Seattle’s legendary music scene, and epitomizes Public Radio’s stature within the local, national and global radio/Internet listening community. Funding for the complex was raised by a successful on-air campaign and augmented by foundation, corporate, local entrepreneur and local government support. KEXP is a Public Broadcast Station in the truest sense of the word.
A collaboration between lead designers SkB Architects, and WSDG-Walters-Storyk Design Group, KEXP’s new complex features a 400 sq. ft. on-air DJ Booth, a 1090 sq. ft. Live Room, (2) production studios, (2) audio and (2) video edit rooms, a video control room (2) DJ Iso rooms, a Green Room, Production/ Mastering, open office space, a library and conference rooms. Future plans include an additional DJ Booth for back-up and educational outreach. To support the station’s commitment to airing live performances, a 4500 sq. ft. reception area was created adjacent to the record/retail store and café. It features stage, and space for up to 75 fans. Additionally, an 1100 sq. ft. live room was created to support the station’s broad live streaming/video production mandate.
WSDG Project Manager Joshua Morris reports that the design mandate was, “to enhance the synergy between the studio’s function and aesthetics by making it accessible to the public, while concurrently maintaining budget conscious comfort and security for the station’s personnel and guest artists. We also focused on the need to enable bands of every conceivable format to set up and breakdown quickly between 30-minute sets,” Morris adds. “Because the original structure served as exhibit space for the 1962 World’s Fair, we were fortunate to have sufficient room for a pretty extensive station wish list.”
“KEXP’s audio/video broadcast systems integration design is based on a Wheatstone Audio for Radio and TV System,” WSDG AV Engineer Federico Petrone points out. “Proprietary WSDG mode calculation software was engaged during the design process, and Wheatstone Glasse software and BLADE routing system greatly enhanced networked connectivity. The station’s extensive equipment arsenal includes Avid S6 Surface and Pro Tools / HDX DAW, 32-channel Yamaha LS-9 console, Nexo PS 15-R2 15-inch two-way speakers with PS SUB woofers, and a substantial collection of outboard equipment ranging from Grace Designs, Millennia, Neve mic preamps, compressor modules from API, Great River, Neve and LaChapell, 500 series EQ and kit from Eventide, Empirical Labs, SPL and Bricasti.
“We were pleased to have been invited by Seattle-based SkB Architects’ co-lead designers/co-founders Kyle and Shannon Gaffney and Steve Olson to participate in this significant project,” WSDG Co-founder John Storyk remarked. “Our collaboration was smooth, efficient and totally supportive. The station’s production facilities represent nearly 60% of the overall footprint of this broadcast complex. SkB’s level of understanding of and appreciation for acoustic requirements, and the myriad of related concerns was outstanding. The entre project team was comprised of extraordinary professionals, from general contractor, Sellen Construction, to Project Management by Costigan Integrated, this team defined the term ‘first tier. And, they’ve already aired and streamed live performances by artists ranging from Ben Harper and Bob Mold to Andrew Bird, Wussy and Dengue Fever.
“Lastly, in KEXP we had an extraordinary client and a cadre of outstanding broadcast professionals,” Storyk concludes. “KEXP CFO, Denise Burnside served as project manager for the station, CTO, Jamie Alls, Operations Manager, Chris Kellogg, and broadcast services GM, Ethan Raup, all shared the goal of making KEXP’s new home as attractive, efficient and future-proofed as possible. The station has thrived for 40+ years, and established an extraordinary reputation as Public Broadcasters. We are pleased to have played a role in helping to fashion a new complex for what looms as an equally exciting future.”
1. KEXP Exterior
2 & 3 DJ Booth (view into Performance Space)
4. Control Room view into Live Room
5. Performance Area (view towards DJ Booth)
6. KEXP Presentation Drawing courtesy WSDG
Photos by www.bittermannphotographer.com
WSDG, a media facility design and consulting firm has collaborated on over 3500 audio /video facilities worldwide. Credits include Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady Studios (1969); NYC’s Jazz At Lincoln Center and, Le Poisson Rouge; broadcast facilities for The Food Network, ESPN, and WNET; major education complexes for NYU, The Art Institutes and Berklee College of Music, Valencia and Boston (2015 TEC winner); and media rooms for such corporate clients as Hoffman La Roche, Cemex, and Sony. Studio projects include NYC’s Jungle City Studios for award winning engineer, Ann Mincieli, Green Day (CA), Jay-Z (NY), film composers Carter Burwell (NY), A.R. Rahman (India), Aerosmith (Boston), Bruce Springsteen (NJ), Alicia Keys (NY), and Paul Epworth’s The Church Studios (London).WSDG principals John Storyk, Beth Walters, Sergio Molho, Silvia Molho, Renato Cipriano, and Dirk Noy lecture frequently at universities and industry events, and contribute regularly to industry publications. WSDG has collaborated with such noted architects as Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and Phillipe Stark. WSDG is a ten-time winner of the NAMM TEC Award for outstanding achievement in Acoustics/Facility Design. The firm maintains offices in New York, Miami, Buenos Aires (Argentina), Belo Horizonte (Brazil) and Basel (Switzerland) with representatives in Barcelona (Spain), Moscow, Guangzhou (China), Florence (Italy), Mexico City, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
KEXP is one of the most influential listener-supported music radio stations in the country. More than 200,000 listeners from around the world tune in to the station each week over the air and online. On KEXP's YouTube channel, videos of exclusive in-studio performances garner more than 1.7 million views per week. KEXP produces over 500 live performances each year. For more information, please visitwww.kexp.org.
About SkB Architects
SkB Architects create meaningful, sensory-rich environments for individuals, corporate clients, retailers, developers and culturally-connected communities. Based in Seattle and with projects located throughout the United States, the diversity of the firm’s practice allows ideas from different project types to cross-pollinate and influence one another, ultimately leading to more comprehensive and informed design solutions. The firm is driven by the idea that thoughtful, insightful, and creative design has the power to
enrich people’s lives. Most recently, SkB was honored with a 2015 American Institute of Architects Award of Merit for their work on 400 Fairview, an innovative 13-story office and retail building in Seattle’s rapidly evolving South Lake Union neighborhood. www.skbarchitects.com