CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE, SEPTEMBER 8, 2009 — Reaching 95 percent of the state’s population, New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) is one of the area’s top resources for news and information. When the station decided it was time to expand its facility, architectural/acoustical firm Russ Berger Design Group (RBDG) was involved from square one with the design and selection of the new space.
Expanding considerably from its original 13 employees and classical music format to about 40 full-time employees focusing primarily on news and information, NHPR needed more space as well as a facility more suited to its new format. “When we embarked on this new effort, we didn’t want to make the same mistakes that we had made at our old facility,” explains Scott McPherson, NHPR’s assistant general manager. “We wanted to make sure we worked with architects that knew what they were doing when it came to acoustic spaces. We chose RBDG because of their reputation in the public radio community. They worked on National Public Radio’s studios in Washington D.C. and WBUR in Boston, so we were familiar with their work.”
RBDG helped NHPR develop an architectural program for the station to use as a benchmark when looking at potential properties for their new home. One important requirement was that the location needed to have enough room to accommodate a large, multi-purpose community space for staff meetings and fundraising phone banks. “By first taking the time to find a building that was really the right fit for the station, NHPR avoided a lot of potential pitfalls and was able to tailor the project to fit the station’s needs and budget,” says Richard Schrag, design principal for RBDG.
The newly constructed facility features two large control rooms, four smaller control rooms, three studios and one large hybrid studio/conference type room. The larger control rooms are able to accommodate three to four people producing news coverage. The studios have seating for five guests and a host. The small control rooms each have space for a board operator and two guests.
The station’s new location is on the building’s top floor, so RBDG’s design addressed possible noise transmission through the roof, especially from mechanical equipment in the penthouse above. According to Schrag, this resulted in “an extremely low noise floor in the acoustical areas, even below the target levels we set.” NHPR wanted to visually connect the multi-purpose room with the main on-air control room to accommodate the recording and broadcast of musical performances and events such as “town hall” meetings. A large window from the main on-air control room helps to facilitate this connection.
“The studios sound good, they meet our needs, and they’re sized and shaped to do what we need to do,” says McPherson. “It’s a big improvement over our previous rooms. With the inclusion of the additional studio spaces, which are finished but currently unused, NHPR is more than equipped to handle the day-to-day broadcasts plus future growth.”
“We’ve designed more than 70 public radio stations across the country,” concludes Schrag, “and the reason they’re such fun projects is that the stations are really passionate about quality, both in terms of the technical performance of the studios and in establishing a work environment that inspires the staff to be more creative. When a radio station is capable of producing high-quality local content like NHPR is, it can continue to be a vital, relevant asset to its community.”
About Russ Berger Design Group (www.rbdg.com)
Russ Berger Design Group (RBDG) is a design and consulting firm that combines expertise in acoustics, architecture and interiors to create technical environments and buildings for recording studios, broadcast facilities, creative production spaces and home theaters.