As the seventh largest U.S. broadcasting company with 70 radio stations in 26 markets throughout the country, Radio One was looking for cool edgy designs for its two newest locations in Boston, MA, and Atlanta, GA. Executives wanted to expand their design options and find a material to reflect the image of their organization. Ceramic tile proved to meet their expectations.
“This is not the first project that I have worked on with Radio One,” said Kevin Travell, Director of Interior Design at Merriman Associates in Dallas, Tex., and Lead Designer for the project, when speaking about the Boston location. “I’ve worked on many locations prior, using other materials. However, they came back to me and requested that we look into using ceramic tile in their reception areas. They wanted something durable and liked the look of ceramic tile. It offered a lot of options for texture and color.”
According to the designer, each of Radio One’s locations features a unique design and they are not traditional business environments. “It’s usually very colorful with unique materials - not what you normally see,” he explained. “They allow me a large amount of freedom of design to express my vision for them. There’s a budget to work within, which usually means there is more concentration on the reception, conference and break areas since they are in view of the public.”
Reflecting the seaIn Boston, the station’s 10,000-square-foot office is across the street from the Boston Harbor waterfront. “The Chief Operating Officer said that she wanted to have a water theme - not nautical,” said Travell. “That’s all she told me. So, I went to Imagine Tile. I was familiar with their designs, and used their tile several times before.”
Travell explained that he chose “Pacific Blue” from Imagine Tile’s collection of decorative tile surfacing. The ceramic tile is characterized by dramatic visuals of light playing on rippling water.
“Their studios are not on the ground floor of the office building,” said the designer. “As a result, they were looking for a ‘wow’ factor and that ‘first impression’ off of the elevators. It’s a radio station, but they have people constantly coming in who have won prizes or who come to push demos.”
And because it is an urban format station, they were looking for materials that would create a fun, cool and inviting atmosphere. “The tile was the first thing that we put down, and we built up from there,” said the designer, adding that the floor tiles measure 12-by-12 inches. “Once I have a concept, I walk them through it. When I first started working with them four years ago, there was a lot more hand holding. We now have a nice report going; there’s a nice level of trust and comfort between us.”
According to Travell, the space has a unique shape. “It was a very difficult space to work with,” he said. “It’s shaped like a pork chop - long and narrow in its entry. It presented its own unique problems.”
The designer explained that the reception area needed to be on the longer side of the space to allow room for people to sit and wait. In addition to the tile floor, other design elements consist of light water colors and varying textures. “Some of the design elements were very literal, while others are more subliminal or implied,” said Travell. “Clear glass and corrugated metal implies a warehouse along a wharf.”
When installing the tile floor, Travell required that the grout lines run parallel with the exterior wall. “The reason this was so important was because of the shape and dynamics of the space,” he said. “There are lots of angles, and I wanted the grout lines to disappear and complicate the space.”
Travell went on to say that he did not want the tile to line up in a way that people would walk down a grout line. “By shifting the grid, you walk across the tile, otherwise it takes away from it,” he said. “You are forced to look across; not down the grid lines. The whole space has movement to it.”
In total, the project was completed in about 14 weeks. “They were so happy with it,” said the designer. “Everyone in the company is talking about this location. It created a new standard.”
An urban feelDuring the time that work was going on in the Boston location, another studio was being completed in Atlanta, which is one of Radio One’s larger markets. “Because of my successful working history with Radio One, I was brought in as the design consultant to deal with the floor plans and finishes,” said Travell.
This 14,000-square-foot location is in a high-rise. “It’s a newer building,” said the designer. “We went in and jazzed this place up, because they were not getting what they wanted. They like an urban warehouse feel, so we had to make it look like an older building.”
“They play a lot of inner city hip-hop,” said the design architect. “They like the deconstructed look. When you get off the elevator we wanted to make it feel like a streetscape. You step out on asphalt and safety stripes. The stripes visually guide you into the reception area.”