North Carolina Central University’s Broadcast Studio serves as the campus’ digital communication source and as a vital, hands-on teaching tool for communication majors. The studio promotes and serves the university through campus newscasts, a YouTube channel, mini-sitcoms, athletics marketing, and other unique media offerings, all of which enable students to learn about communications through firsthand experience—both behind and in front of the camera. The studio resides in the first floor of the Farrison–Newton Mass Communications building, which was built in 1974. The existing interior walls were comprised of concrete masonry units and brick, and the only visual connection between the TV studio suite of rooms and the rest of the building was a 4” wide strip of glass in the door to the corridor. Despite the studio’s physical adjacency to the building lobby, the suite was completely enclosed and therefore disconnected from the rest of the Mass Comm department. The irony of a “hidden” communications hub created an opportunity to pull back the curtains and allow students and visitors to see into the studio’s innerworkings.
The revamped studio transforms a cluttered, monofunctional broadcast area into an open, hi-tech, and multifunctional studio capable of providing a variety of set-ups to meet the department’s changing needs. Attentive space planning reorients the studio to create a direct connection from the building lobby and provides the studio director with clear supervision of visitors and working students. Increased transparency elevates the studio’s visibility by putting its innerworkings on display for students and passersby. Carefully selected and composed materials capture the capture the university’s brand, warm up the previously bare CMU walls, and reinforce spatial connections. An ACM-wrapped portal gives way to a stained wood wall highlighted by an “ON-AIR” sign announcing the studio’s activity. The stained wood wall pulls people into the TV studio, which is transformed by an acrylic wrap that evokes the flying wings of the NCCU mascot, the Eagle. Though the studio’s footprint remained the same, removing the existing drop ceiling expands the perceived size of the studio and displays the infrastructure—lights, conduit, and other systems—needed to make the studio function.
The renovated studio expands the department’s educational offerings and enables the university to promote, attract, and retain future and current student and professor talent. The renovation was capped by employing the latest in broadcast technology, giving NCCU a truly one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art studio.