Since its founding in 1970, WETA Radio, the Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association NPR/PBS, non-commercial FM station, had served its listener base with a variety of programming that featured classical, folk and jazz music and news before shifting to its current all-classical broadcast format. In 1999, funding was approved to move WETA from its original home to a six story building in Arlington, VA with updated production spaces. As part of the move and to sustain the studio for the future, the services of WSDG were retained to design the new production suites.
WSDG developed and performed a full architectural and acoustic master plan design program for the new studio complex. A primary consideration was that all three on-air Control Rooms would be be visually and technologically linked to each other. And, that they provide visual connectivity for the frequent public tours which NPR stations count as critical assets in fund raising missions. These decisions would ensure that the space was hospitable as well as functional.
One particularly challenging design issue was a shift of the original on-air production studio & C.R. from the first floor, which featured a 16’+ (4.87 meter) ceiling height to the 11’ (3.35 meter)-high second floor. To compensate for this abbreviated height, the technical spaces were constructed with a raised floor level of just 4”. In full operation since 2000, WETA’s new broadcast facility has empowered the station to serve its diverse Washington, D.C. audience and future-proof it for broadcast technology upgrades as they prove their mettle. WETA’s abiding production format was informed by several key technology decisions. In keeping with its new location and direction, the new complex fully embraced digital technology for all its studio and field equipment.