Looking to make a statement within a trending area of commerce and entertainment, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB (opens in new tab)) decided to move their headquarters from Dupont Circle to a high-traffic corner on Washington D.C.’s South Capitol Street in the trending Navy Yard. As the premier organization for the nation’s radio and television broadcasters, its new home needed to be more than just your average headquarters.
Partnering with LG Business Solutions, technology solutions provider Diversfied, and audiovisual consultant Miller, Beam and Paganelli, every part of the space was designed as an opportunity to showcase the latest in broadcasting technology, cementing NAB as a true leader and innovator in the space. Located within a 118,000-square-foot, 10-story building, owned by its own 1M Properties, NAB’s new headquarters occupies five-and-a-half floors. The convenient location is only one block from the Navy Yard-Ballpark Metro Station, and provides easy access to Capitol Hill, Nationals Park (home of the Washington Nationals), and two interstates.
“They already had in mind that they wanted LG (opens in new tab) as their design partner so that made life a little bit easier,” said John Paganelli, principal at Miller, Beam, and Paganelli. “With that, they wanted to use the headquarters to showcase new technology and be cutting edge. Teaming with LG, we looked to them to see what new technologies they had and what would be exciting and different, and that’s how we came up with some of the concepts that we did.”
Visual Statement in the Lobby
When entering the first-floor lobby, visitors are greeted by a 20-foot-high, 22-foot-wide 2mm pixel pitch LG LED curved video wall, which not only serves as a statement piece for showcasing broadcast history and content but is visible to passersby on the street. But this is just a preview of what awaits visitors in NAB’s main lobby on the 10th floor.
“Once you step off the elevators, the first thing you see is six transparent LG OLED screens,” said Michael Tow, NAB senior vice president, information technology. “They were cutting edge when we bought them two or three years ago and they still are now. LG was actually showcasing this same transparent OLED technology at NAB Show in April.”
[Rust Never Sleeps ... and Neither Do Display Manufacturers] (opens in new tab)
The 2x3-panel video wall, comprising six 55-inch transparent OLED panels, can operate as one immersive canvas or be divided into six separate screens running content simultaneously. Due to the transparent nature of the screens, visitors don’t miss out on the expansive city view of Washington, DC, including breathtaking views of the Washington Monument and other iconic landmarks. The video wall is also accompanied by vertically mounted, 86-inch LG Ultra-Stretch displays that are ideal for sharing meeting information, company updates, and other internal communications.
As visitors continue through the lobby, they are greeted by the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame video wall comprising five ultra-narrow-bezel 55-inch 4K UHD LED displays in a 5x1 configuration, taking visitors on a colorful journey through broadcast history. The interactive display allows visitors to learn about past Hall of Fame winners and listen to audio soundbites or videos from their induction ceremonies.
Throughout the headquarters space, NAB wanted a continual nod to the industry’s past, present, and future to be a main design theme, including “speaker box” treatments for several meeting room windows, “countdown” graphics marking floor numbers by the elevator doors, broadcast icons on the bathroom doors, and rooms featuring light-up “on-air” signs. These tributes to the old age of radio combine the past with the present, as they are juxtaposed with the modern architecture and technology within the space.
With a display network of this size and quality, NAB also had to ensure the content was produced at the same level—and relied on design agency Bluecadet for high-quality, engaging content. “The content is really nice,” said Michael Burnstein, vice president with Diversified (opens in new tab). “It’s sharp, the production value is really high because it’s NAB. When you walk into a normal office of their size, the production value is not nearly as nice as theirs.”
Another touchpoint is the 5,000-square-foot multipurpose room, also located on the 10th floor, which features a bezel-free 1.88mm pixel pitch, 6-foot high, 32-foot wide UHD LG LED video wall. Almost every room within the headquarters is outfitted with digital displays, including 10 executive offices and 12 team rooms that each house a 43-inch LCD display. (The CEO Team Room includes the 65-inch 4K UHD model.)
Displays can also be found as visitors exit the elevators on each floor, providing NAB the opportunity for continued messaging and brand awareness throughout the building. Additional conference rooms throughout the headquarters have also been outfitted with 4K UHD displays, including the Gordon H. Smith Conference Room and the Edward O. Fritts Conference Room on the fifth floor.
Within two project rooms and the Conventions Open Team Room, 65-inch LG Interactive Digital Boards give employees the opportunity to save and share meeting information, present content, edit on screen, and utilize collaboration options without a PC. Everything from the fitness center to the café is outfitted with LCD or LED displays, making it feel like innovation is truly just around every corner.
Bringing this much technology online, especially new technology that had never been seen beyond trade shows, provided a challenge for all involved, from figuring out what technology was going to be provided to dealing with delays due to how “of-the-moment” the technology really is. This also presented challenges when it came to mounting, with custom mounts needing to be designed and configured.
The pandemic stressed many organizations, including NAB, which suffered from a less-than-ideal move into its new headquarters in March 2020. Staff did not begin working within the space until Summer 2021, on a voluntary basis, and only recently began utilizing it on a more permanent basis as employees returned to the office three or more days a week in early 2022.
Employees returned to the office to a nice surprise: 34-inch curved ultra-wide LG monitors at every desk. These monitors have a wide footprint, making daily work easier and more efficient, and eliminates the need for employees to have multiple monitors.
Media Production Facility
Most people would assume the NAB has always had a state-of-the-art production facility, but Mike Khatcheressian, Emmy-winning producer and NAB vice president of media production, said that wasn’t always the case. “When I came for my job interview at NAB years ago, one of the things I was most excited about was to see the NAB studio," he recalled. "They walked me into this room and there was a greenscreen, a 10-year-old camera, and a few lights. I remember being shocked and saying at the time that this is going to be something you’re going to want to upgrade. I love what we have now and it really is a showpiece for NAB, kind of like what we all envisioned a studio at NAB could be.”
The new NAB Media Production Facility is highlighted by a curved, 15-foot Planar interactive video wall that can serve as an immersive backdrop for live and pre-recorded content. The studio is also outfitted with an 8K-capable edit suite and provides the ability for design capabilities to be done from remote access. The space is well equipped to accommodate Zoom interviews or interactions, providing additional options when their CEO or other stakeholders are unable to be on-site for outside events or interviews.
Four PTZ cameras (opens in new tab) are housed in the studio, but the space can accommodate up to eight cameras, with future capabilities expanding to pull in camera feeds from across the headquarters. Plus, a prompter is currently being installed that has the ability to detect who is speaking and provide seamless tracking amongst multiple speakers.
Originally, the space was not conceptualized as a studio—but through careful design, the compact area was designed to appear larger on camera. The studio provides NAB with the ability to produce a wide array of programming, including live webcasts, updates, educational content, sales seminars for NAB members, and future content for tradeshows. There is also the opportunity to use the space to bring in additional revenue from outside rentals, helping NAB make up for losses accrued during the pandemic.
Much of the studio was built through the support of NAB partners like Planar, Vitec Production Solutions, PESA, Barbizon Lighting Company, The Launch Group, Video Visions, Angry Badger Productions, Magis Media, and The Light Source, all of which donated services and equipment to help bring the innovative space to life. “It’s great for our partners to showcase their new technologies,” said Khatcheressian.
In choosing the partners, April Carty-Sipp, NAB executive vice president, industry affairs, said, "We had many conversations and leveraged connections our team has with companies we’ve worked with previously in the broadcast business or through our work at NAB." She said the first official partner was Angry Badger Productions, which helped bring in additional partners along the way.
While visitors can look forward to touring the studio space, the partners will benefit from the exposure their involvement provides, along with the opportunity to bring potential clients to see their technology in action. With this in mind, many of the partners are committed to continually upgrading technology to ensure the space showcases the latest and greatest. This also goes for LG, which is using the NAB headquarters as an opportunity to showcase its offerings and is committed to refreshing the technology for years to come.
With remote and hybrid work (opens in new tab) becoming commonplace, NAB hopes the headquarters is seen as a benefit to employees wanting to return to the office. “I remember the first time I walked in to 1M and saw all the technology. Just seeing all this beautiful technology and how modern it was—it really makes you proud to work at a place like NAB and makes you happy to come to work," said Khatchersessian. “You don’t mind the long commute in because you’re going to be in a comfortable space and one that is just fun to be in.”