Situated within the iconic art deco building of 30 Rockefeller Center are the broadcasting studios and executive offices of NBCUniversal. NBCUniversal commissioned a redesign of the ground floor lobby and mezzanine, comprising of 25,912-square-feet in total. The mezzanine and rotunda were originally designed in the 1930s to welcome audiences attending RCA radio shows, however, had been demolished in the late 1970s. With multiple guest audiences ranging from 145 to 330 people several times throughout the day, the modernized design needed to provide programmatic flexibility within an engaging backdrop. Diving deep into archives for the original plans and photographs, the team was able to reignite the historical integrity of the space.
This landmark facility serves as a prolific beacon for NBCUniversal’s ever-expanding broadcasting and entertainment network. The Rotunda was designed to evoke the original lobby design from the 1930s, including its 16-foot-wide dramatic, theatrical Grand Stair leading the public up into the mezzanine. The vision in recreating the Grand Stair and Mezzanine Rotunda lies not in replicating the past, but in burnishing the history and shaping the future of this legendary complex. Having been responsible for the redesign of other landmarked spaces within 30 Rockefeller Center, the firm’s approach to landmark preservation is always centered on cultural memory and qualitatively extending the life of buildings and public places for the next generation.
This sense of historic integrity is expressed through deliberate design decisions in the space. A unified aesthetic of fluted bronze, black terrazzo, and Athens Grey marble evoke a sense of art deco tradition seen throughout the rest of 30 Rockefeller Center. The Athens Grey stone walls flanking the Grand Stair are reminiscent of the original striated stone used in the 1930s design. Suspended from the round rotunda ceiling, floating directly above the Grand Stair is a spectacular 12-foot diameter, bronze ringed chandelier, up-lighting its silver-leafed surface evocative of the long lost fixture from the original mezzanine.
'Ribbons' of curved LED screens 60-foot long x 5-foot high align the entire rotunda, creating an intriguing and entertaining waiting experience where studio visitors can engage with the dynamic graphics and enjoy this historic-inspired space in the round. The original mezzanine rotunda featured a circular mural of black and white photographs by Margaret Bourke-White depicting NBC’s early years as a broadcast network. These photos are now amongst the digitized repertoire of the content appearing on LED screens along the rotunda perimeter, reinforcing a historic sense of place while also providing flexible programming options through contemporary technology. The liveliness of NBCUniversal’s entertainment studios permeates through the continuous use of advanced A/V technology throughout the guest reception, lobby, mezzanine, and newly established Peacock Lounge. This multi-functional, 3600-square-foot flexible lounge hosts TV audiences, studio tours, red-carpet events, television tapings, and private parties. Visitors are transported into the world of NBCUniversal throughout their journey, experiencing the drama and history of a space reclaimed from within this great landmark interior.
Photography by Paul Warchol.