KCRW Media Center
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Santa Monica, California

About This Project

Type: Offices, Ground-up Construction
Area: 34,000 SF
Photo: Michael Moran

The new 34,000-square-foot Media Center marks the first time KCRW will have a standalone building in its 35-year history. The beloved NPR (National Public Radio) member station licensed to Santa Monica College previously occupied 12,800 square feet across five separate locations, much of which was subterranean. The offices had zero visibility with limited access and parking, no welcome area for visitors, and a small 400-square-foot Performance Studio with no waiting space for performers or program guests. Employees also did not have access to editorial common areas nor to a functional kitchen or dining area.

Today, an outdoor stage, indoor audience viewing gallery and a large 1,400-square-foot Performance Studio (with a spacious green room) allow the community greater opportunities to engage closely with KCRW through daily, in-studio performances and events. No longer working out of a basement, employees now have access to a dedicated newsroom, six collaborative meeting rooms and over 1,300 square feet of informal common areas distributed across three floors. In addition, ‘The Basement’, paying homage to the station’s prior underground offices, offers a full kitchen and dining terrace with indoor-outdoor seating overlooking the central courtyard.

With twenty-six new studios for news, music and culture, the Media Center enables KCRW to dramatically increase its production capacity. Characterized by a similar internal path and open, visible workspaces, the station will share its resources with the school to encourage creative collaboration and educational reciprocity. Few institutions are truly committed to breaking down the schism between higher education and the workplace; however, Santa Monica College and KCRW came to us with precisely this design challenge. The campus that resulted is a successful symbiotic experiment in co-locating a media education program and a professional broadcasting organization to maximize the benefits between the two renowned institutions.