By Cindy Bailen
The first thing you notice is the scale.
It’s massive: The size of three football fields.
Industrial in feel -- with vibrant, pixilated murals and warm wood on the walls -- the interior of NBCUniversals’ new complex gives a nod to the color palette for each of the four stations that are now calling Needham home: NBC10, NECN, Telemundo Boston and NBC Sports Boston.
Their old headquarters on Wells Avenue in Newton was about the size of the new site’s underground garage. But there’s intimacy inside this 160,000 incredible square foot of studio and office space on B Street in Needham too. Collaboration is built into the design, with informal meeting and seating areas everywhere. Gourmet coffee stations are ubiquitous throughout the facility and kitchen spaces are luxurious. More formal conference rooms, set up for teleconferencing, are named for Boston streets and landmarks.
Nearly 400 employees who toil in the news and sports operation, HR, sales, creative services, and programming, will ultimately work in the new space, a fully gutted and rehabbed former site of General Dynamics.
According to NBC10 General Manager Mike St. Peter, the Needham location was chosen over a number of other possible sites. Places they considered inside Boston proper felt “landlocked” to the executive team. NBC Universal felt the N2 Innovation District location made the most sense as an ideal spot for news gathering because of its convenient access to I-95 and the Mass Pike. Availability of on-site parking contributed to the appeal of the site, and as St. Peter said, “The Town of Needham has been very accommodating.”
With the new complex, NBCUniversal is also making a considerable investment in Greater Boston, said St. Peter, who is also vice chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.
“There’s no question that NBC is in it for the long haul,” said St. Peter. “They’ve made a commitment to do things right to serve the community.”
The company hired Gensler Architects who worked with VP of Technology, Keith Barbaria and a committee of NBCU employees to create the dream workspace.
The result is a new $125 million media center that’s light-filled and completely modern, with state-of-the-art technology throughout. The impressive broadcast newsroom offers 27 75-inch monitors surrounding its 30-foot ceiling. There are six control rooms in the building and any control room can produce any show. Each station has its own studio, with giant LED screens showing high-resolution images of Boston-area scenes.
The building offers other employee perks, including a sizeable, fully-equipped fitness center with lockers and showers. With two interior courtyards, employees will find plenty of reasons to hang out in nice weather. A small private office allows employees to sign up to confer online with medical personnel about their health issues. On-air staff get ready in private changing rooms, and there’s a large makeup area done up in the style of a sports locker room.