A Victorian building near London’s Tottenham Court Road has been completely renovated and transformed to create a modern, vibrant London headquarters for German public broadcaster ARD.
The project manager for this marathon task, which took more than a year from initial design to completion, was UK studio design consultancy White Mark Ltd. The company also designed and installed all of the technical areas including radio and television studios, control rooms, vocal booths and edit suites.
“This is the first time we have undertaken a project of this magnitude,” says White Mark director Alan Cundell. “Structurally, the building was in a very poor state and required a good deal of remedial work before we could begin the technical transformation. The roof had to be replaced and we also had to rebuild the rear wall to incorporate a massive three storey high glass window. The original power supply dated back to the early 20th Century and was simply inadequate. This problem was only solved when EDF installed a completely new mains cable, which involved digging up large sections of the surrounding streets.”
ARD (the acronym stands for Association of Public Broadcasting Corporations of the Federal Republic of Germany) is a consortium of nine regional public service broadcasters. It operates a terrestrial television network and a digital package of three free-to-air channels. It also participates in the production of a number of cable and satellite channels and has Internet and Teletext services. On the radio side, ARD operates 54 regional and local radio stations and two nationwide radio channels.
The decision to move its headquarters to Tottenham Court Road was forced upon ARD by Crossrail. Its old building in Great Chapel Street was caught up in the Crossrail development and was therefore no longer suitable for broadcast use. Once the new building had been identified, White Mark was called in to handle the transformation.
“The entire building had to be redesigned to create the work spaces that ARD required,” Alan Cundell explains. “There are three floors in total, plus a basement that now houses a crew rest and equipment preparation area plus a large machine room and air conditioning hub. Each floor is dedicated to a specific task. The top floor houses radio studios and correspondents’ offices for ARD affiliates WBB and NDR. The second floor houses offices for ARD’s chief television correspondents, along with facilities for production and administration. On the first floor there are recording rooms, facilities for ingest and online video editing suites, as well as more office space for the engineering staff. Finally, on the ground floor we have installed a reception area that doubles up as a television studio, a fully equipped television studio, a television control room and another online edit suite.”
ARD took the opportunity to move from SD to HD, which resulted in a significant investment in new equipment. The list now includes three Final Cut Pro Systems, an Omneon Spectrum Server with 6 Ingest Channels, an HD Environment with a 32x32 Network video router, a Broadcast Pix Slate 1000 video mixer, IMX and XD-Cam HD VTRs and an S4M Content Management System. Dedicated lines to both the BBC and the BT Tower have also been installed.
Ferdinand Mönnig, NDR/ARD’s architect and project manager, says: “We chose White Mark for this project because they are specialists in the design of world-class audio and video facilities and have extensive experience of building facilities of this kind in the Soho area of London. Working with them was a very positive experience as they listened carefully to all of our requirements and converted our ideas into great designs – and ultimately great studios - for the new building. The fact that they were able to coordinate all the specialist sub-contractors needed to complete this project was an enormous advantage. They managed all aspects of the building work to our satisfaction. The end result is a fantastic London headquarters that offers much improved workflow.”
About White Mark:
Established in 1997 by David Bell, John Dunnill, Derek Buckingham and Alan Cundell, White Mark Ltd specialises in production facilities for music recording and the film and television industries. Over the last decade it has designed and supervised the construction of over 170 audio production suites worldwide. The company’s impressive client list encompasses some of the world’s most famous music recording facilities including Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in the UK, Hit Factory in New York (for which the company won a coveted TEC Award for Best Acoustic Design), Hit Factory/Criteria Recording Studios in Miami, Strongroom in London and private studios for producers and musicians such as William Orbit and Damon Albarn. In the area of audio post production, White Mark has completed over 100 studios for more than 40 companies in Soho alone. The list includes Grand Central, Hackenbacker, Envy, Scramble, Lipsync, Molinare, Ascent Media, Wave and Boom. This impressive achievement means that a significant proportion of mainstream British television output passes through rooms designed by White Mark. www.whitemark.com