RBDG Upgrades and Expands NFL Network’s Culver City Facility

By Carl Lindemann

The NFL Network is ready to tackle the upcoming season with the completion of a major expansion to its Culver City, CA broadcast facility. The new soundstage and production space, designed by Russ Burger Design Group (RBDG), is to handle an added slate of original programming. Productions broadcast from the facility include NFL Total Access, NFL Game Day, NFL Re-Play, NFL Scoreboard, College Football Now, and NFL Network Now.

The expansion includes a new 25,000 square foot production support area that houses two video control rooms, two audio control rooms, a voice booth, a shading control room, nine edit suites and a graphics and central equipment room. A second 10,000 square foot soundstage has also been added alongside the existing studio.

The project began in early 2006 when RBDG hit the ground running to bring the additions online as quickly as possible. Richard Schrag, project manager for RBDG, says that the greatest issue was the time factor.

”The monumental challenge was getting this done in a tight time frame. The time wed normally have for design had to be used for both design and construction,” said Schrag.

To meet the deadline, construction of the new soundstage was the top priority and was completed for last season. Temporary production facilities were set up in trailers in the parking lot to provide control rooms and edit bays. These were moved indoors as the space was completed.

RBDG has a longstanding relationship with the NFL. Ten years ago, they had carried out the design and oversight for the ground-up construction of NFL Films’ Mt. Laurel, New Jersey headquarters. The Culver City project brought the additional challenges that go with working in an existing building alongside ongoing operations.

”About all we could salvage from the existing space was the shell. We had to build a completely new internal structure to support the light grid and to put in a new HVAC system,” Schrag said.

Because the building’s roof structure could not support additional ceiling loads for either the soundstage or the production spaces, RBDG created structures that would support the new work from the floor. For the soundstage, the lighting grid is a completely freestanding assembly supported from new columns and footings built within the existing space. The sound isolation ceilings for the production spaces are supported from the walls, so that each room becomes a freestanding box that has no rigid connections to the building shell or its neighboring spaces. This achieves excellent sound isolation since it eliminates ties to building that could transmit vibration from the mechanical systems or the rest of the building’s tenants.

According to Schrag, HVAC noise and vibration control offered additional challenges due to the constraints of the existing building. The only viable location for the units that provide the cooling to the production spaces was on the roof above. To make that work required close attention to the placement of the equipment, duct geometry, and sound attenuation.

Following the construction of the soundstage, the space for the production support area was finished last spring. Since, efforts have focused on installing and integrating equipment. Everything was finished on schedule for the pre-season.

Looking back, Schrag appreciates the challenge the NFL Network project brought.

“It called for a heroic effort by all,” he said.

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