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The New NBC Building
Since veteran executives and engineers of broadcasting have pronounced San Francisco's new NBC Building the most perfect plant of its kind ever designed, and since it is agreed the improvement will definitely establish San Francisco as one of the four great radio centers of the United States, let's look at the qualifications which give the structure such an impressive rating.
There can be no argument with the statement that the National Broadcasting Company stations, KPO and KGO, were in serious need of new quarters. Over a period of ten years many plans and ideas had been considered without favorable action.
Late in 1939, when Al Nelson became general manager of KPO and KGO, the effort became more determined. A total of 38 different propositions were investigated. The best of these was developed and recommended. Approval and authorization followed in November, 1940.
The structure represents a total value well in excess of one million dollars, including an investment of $200,000 for special equipment by the National Broadcasting Company.
Scores of business executives and civic leaders have endorsed the judgment of NBC management in establishing such a broadcasting headquarters in the city which is the recognized business center of the Pacific Coast. They also approve the location at the corner of Taylor and O'Farrell streets. It is in the heart of the retail business district, within a few minutes' walk from the largest department stores, theatres, hotels and clubs.
Five stories high, the Building is constructed of reinforced concrete, trimmed with bands of glass brick. These admit daylight but are not transparent.
There are no windows in the Building and it is air conditioned throughout. Architecture is modern, streamlined, but not freakish, fantastic nor faddish. The structure contains 52,800 square feet of floor space, more than double the area of previous quarters. A larger percentage of the footage is devoted to studios and not wasted in unnecessary office and hallway area.
Main entrance is on Taylor Street, near the Clift Hotel, beneath a dignified, inviting marquee. An 80-foot tower rises above the entrance, the most dramatic feature of which is a great mural panel, 16 by 40 feet. It symbolizes the vast extent of radio and the unlimited service it gives to all the lands and all the peoples of the earth.
Ten studios give KPO of the National Broadcasting Company and KGO of the Blue Network Company adequate facilities for all broadcasts, rehearsals and auditions. The largest of these will accommodate audiences of 500 people.
All studios open to the public are on the second floor, easily accessible from elevators and stairway.
Show windows at either side of the entrance and others inside the main lobby tell the story of radio, and publicize programs and radio-advertised products.
Such interesting activities as the master control room, news room, traffic, radio recording, are visible from the foyers on different floors through large windows, making it possible for visitors to see what goes on "back stage" in a broadcasting plant.
There are a million feet--that's 190 miles of wire in the Building, most of it being of a special design to meet the requirements of broadcasting. Much of the technical equipment was constructed in the engineering field office, across O'Farrell Street from the Building site.
Cooperation Brings perfection
Nerve center of the plant, of course, is the master control desk, so designed that one man will have complete control over every studio, every line in and out of the Building, all the switches and operations. He will be like a train dispatcher directing all moving trains.
There is a special PAX system to make all house monitoring possible and to enable executives to dial any studio, any program or any other local broadcasting station direct from their desks.
Chances of error in switching operations are reduced to a minimum by means of a master pre-set. Previously individual buttons were punched for all stations that were to carry the following program and this had to be done in five seconds. By the use of the pre-set this work is all set-up in advance. When chimes ring, only one button will need to be pushed. The pre-set will do all the rest, instantly and accurately.
Following the best accepted practice, every studio has been set on springs with the walls and ceiling suspended by springs--the box within a box idea. In this way it is impossible for any outside sound or vibration to reach the studios. All wall surfaces have scientifically correct acoustical treatment and are set at angles that make echoes and sound reflection impossible.
Having the entire plant air-conditioned is also a definite benefit to musicians in keeping their instruments tuned. They do not have to make corrections as they move from one temperature or degree of moisture to another.
Office and studio layout and the arrangement of departments received much serious study by many members of the NBC staff as well as the architects and engineers. The result is a series of floor plans conducive to absolute efficiency of operation. Convenience of the public also was kept in mind as plans were drawn for the newest showplace in a city filled with showplaces.
From the moment they pass through the beautiful entrance doors into the exquisite lobby, every detail of design and decoration will interest visitors. The broad stairway and elevators invite them to the second floor.
Facing this foyer is the newsroom with its teletype machines bringing news from the four corners of the earth over the wires of all three of the great news syndicates. Editors there prepare news broadcast material while in the center is a triangular news desk from which broadcasts originate.
Through another large window visitors see the traffic department where program schedules are worked out, corrected and kept posted on huge boards.
Studio A opens directly off of this foyer through double doors and a vestibule. At the far end of the room is the large platform and to the right the control room. This studio, 41 by 70 feet, seats 500 people.
Studios B and C are just a few steps down a public corridor and are 24 by 44 feet. Control rooms are at the far ends of these studios and the pipe organ is located in Studio B. Studios A, B and C are two stories high and clients' observation booths are above the control rooms.
Studios D, E and F are across the public corridor from B and C and each is 20 by 30 feet in size. Studio G opens off the end of the corridor and is to be used chiefly for speakers or forums or programs not of particular interest to visible audiences.
Other occupancy of the second floor includes sound effects room, two script conference rooms, musicians' room, artists' lounge and the necessary store rooms, lockers, service lobbies and wash rooms. Freight elevator and second stairway are at the rear of the Building, available from O'Farrell Street.
Each Foyer an Exposition
Quarters of the Blue Network Company and the KGO staff are located on the third floor as well as general rooms for engineers, music and Thesaurus libraries, telephone switchboard, and photographer's dark room.
NBC and KPO executives and departments occupy the fourth floor, outstanding fentures of which are the clients' audition room and the manager's offices. Except for a public parking gnrage in the basement and a portion of the first floor, the entire structure is devoted exclusively to broadcasting--a compact, well arranged, beautifully designed structure--an ideal combination of radio studios, offices and facilities.
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