December 16, 2016
Los Angeles is a cultural and entertainment hub. Various broadcast, motion pictures and recording studios claim the city as their home base, so Connect Media caught up with McCormick Construction’s President and CEO Michael McCormick to discuss how the real estate for the music and TV industry differs from the usual office and retail spaces around town.
Q. What are the most sought-after building types and locations for broadcast and recording studio projects?
A. Studios target many different building types; however, the most sought-after types are industrial buildings because of the open interior space within, which gives the studios flexibility to design and construct the space to fit their needs. Additionally, “clear span” – high ceilings and free of columns – makes these building types very attractive. Because of this, many broadcast and recording studios are also adaptive reuse projects.
When it comes to location, Burbank, Culver City and Hollywood are hotspots for studios; therefore, demand for space in these areas is high. But it is not just about finding available space in those areas. It’s also extremely important to think about the surrounding area and external noise, such as nearby train tracks, busy streets and airports.
Q. Why is it so crucial for the project team to meet early on in the development process?
A. These projects require team members with a high-level of expertise and understanding of the industry. Having all of the primary project team members meet early on is very important to make sure that all aspects of the project, and the delivery process, are being appropriately addressed.
Prior to starting work on behalf of Westwood One/Cumulus Media for completion of a three-building recording and broadcast studio campus in Culver City, we met with the architect, subcontractors and the client at the site to walk through the facility, so the client could show the entire team specifically what they were looking to achieve with the renovations. Throughout the process, McCormick worked closely with the structural engineer and the architect to overcome any project challenges, including how to attach the individual studio ceilings to the existing brick wall to make sure it was aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound, in addition to providing proper sound isolation between the rooms to separate noise.
Q. How do requirements for broadcast and recording studios differ from other commercial spaces?
A. Whether it is a broadcast, recording or motion picture studio, each studio type has a different set of acoustic requirements depending on what is being produced and the equipment that is used. Sound transmission class (STC) requirements are key to ensuring the studios have the sound separation they need to effectively develop their content. Walls, windows, flooring and other items must be designed and selected specifically to meet these requirements and minimize sound interference. One of the other most common fixes for this is creating a “room within a room,” where the floor, walls and ceiling are isolated from the main structure, so there is no sound transmission or vibration feedback from outside. For HVAC systems to achieve satisfactory noise levels in studios and stages, air must be introduced at a very low velocity compared with more conventional ventilation and air conditioning. Ceiling diffusers and grilles quite often have bulkhead light fittings placed underneath them to prevent the ‘dumping’ of cold air and to optimize the directivity related to sound level at different frequencies.
In order to allow for large pieces of equipment to get into the studio, “elephant doors” – tall sound stage doors that often slide or pivot open – are another very important piece of the puzzle for studios. Often, these doors are designed to meet certain soundproofing requirements.
When it comes to lighting, the roof structure of the facility needs to be designed to support the heavy loads of a grid system. This may include cat walks, lighting fixtures, speakers, electrical equipment and more.
Additionally, floors must be absolutely flat, so camera equipment can roll easily across the studio without any jolting.