Not only are public media folks in awe of KEXP‘s new $15 million dollar creative facility, the design industry has taken keen interest. A recent article in the trade publication Archpaper [link] praises the work of project collaborators SkB Architects, and WSDG-Walters-Storyk Design Group. Both firms are based in the Seattle area.
|KEXP's new location before constrution|
KEXP’s new headquarters is in the shadow of Seattle Center’s iconic Space Needle. But the designers faced challenges from the start. The structure was originally built as an exhibition hall for the 1962 World’s Fair. It was a bleak and dark environment, something designers knew they needed to change.
Shannon Gaffney, SkB cofounder and co-lead designer on the project told Archpaper:
“We wanted to bring the outside in. Circulation was a challenge and required striking the right balance between openness and decompression, public and private. It was like a puzzle.”
Gaffney said the designers were particularly pleased with KEXP’s public gathering space, a 4,500-square-foot area with a coffee shop and showroom.
By weaving together public-private elements in the new space, KEXP is able to connect more closely with its listeners while the public can hear (and watch) musicians, meet friends, study, have an espresso, and peek into the daily workings of an indie public radio station.
The public gathering space is open and light-filled, pulling together exposed silver and white ductwork with turquoise accents, low-key stenciled concrete floors, and roll-up garage doors. It’s an effect that transforms the area into an indoor plaza and public extension of the courtyard to the east.
Many of its materials were donated. This includes the dark wood paneling, sourced from Puget Sound, that frames the glass-windowed DJ looking into the space. When not being used for live concerts, the gathering space converts into a lounge.
Another room that is receiving ample attention is KEXP’s 50,000-item music library. Gaffney says the library embraces KEXP’s spirit of public-private partnership.
Funding for the KEXP complex was raised by an on-air campaign and augmented by foundation, corporate, local entrepreneur and local government support. KEXP began broadcasting from the new digs in December 2015. The grand open was in Spring 2016. English singer-songwriter-guitarist Robyn Hitchcock was the first artisit to perform at the new KEXP. The first song he played was Viva! Sea-Tac.” Viva KEXP!
Here is a photographic tour of KEXP’s new home: