After a momentous fundraising effort provided KNKX with the $7 million necessary to purchase its broadcast license from Pacific Lutheran University, the public radio station’s representatives doubled down on their community values by building the station’s new home in the historic C. N. Gardner Building in the Theater District of Tacoma, Wash. V Three Studios partnered with KNKX as a design consultant for the renovation of the 7,600-square-foot ground floor. The space’s new features include four studios and a community-focused multipurpose “living room” performance space, along with general open office and support spaces underpinned by a complex retrofitted technical infrastructure.
The C. N. Gardner Building, designed by highly regarded regional architect George Wesley Bullard and constructed in 1906, boasts original architectural details, including Corinthian columns, elegant structural beams and an elaborate cut stonework façade. With a goal of accentuating the original architecture as much as possible, the design team allowed these columns to dictate the location of certain elements throughout the design process, resulting in unique integrations with the reception desk, glass partitions, on-air studios, acoustic elements and more. Additionally, the original structural beams framing the second-level mezzanine were left exposed, allowing visitors to see and appreciate the historic components of the building’s interior.
Technologically, the station is equipped with the latest industry-standard broadcast equipment for producing and distributing various forms of digital media. This technical infrastructure had to be retrofitted into the existing historical structure, resulting in cable trays, conduits and other equipment being openly visible and celebrated. Visitors can view the station’s central hub of rack equipment through a glass partition near the front entrance, along with electrical and data connections mounted directly to the exposed brick throughout the space. The renovation includes the planned flexibility to integrate new technology moving forward, making this the perfect long-term home for KNKX.
PHOTOS: CLEARY O’FARRELL PHOTOGRAPHY