The newsroom of the future

Originally uploaded by Stuart Pinfold.

Last week, I got the chance to have a sneak preview of New Broadcasting House, which will be the home of the BBC from 2012.

New Broadcasting House is on the site of the old one on Portland Place where the Corporation’s radio arm has been based since 1932. Following the sales of Television Centre and Bush House and the move of some departments up to Salford, almost all of the BBC’s London operations will be based in this building.

One of the interesting things about the new building is the attempt of architects to make it more accessible to the people who pay for it – ie you and me. This is partly due to the BBC Trust’s commitment to increasing openness. But I understand that Westminster City Council also imposed a planning requirement for public access in return for the building increasing its footprint.

These requirements have resulted in the addition of an arcade through the building which leads to the plaza to the front of the building. Those who walk through the building will be able to access the radio theatre, a public viewing area and a cafe with views over the newsroom.

I was able to view these areas on my visit last week. For journalists, it will certainly take some getting used to working with members of the public looking down on them. I think it is a good thing, and with bombproof glass throughout the buildings and security barriers in place, it should be as safe as any other BBC building.

I also looked at the plans – there is a lot of floorspace, understandably considering that most of the BBC’s London operations will be based here. It also brought home to me the fate of Television Centre, which will be sold off. I have worked there a few times and once the excitement of the first visit washed over, I discovered that I had no great love for the building.

Iconic it might be, but television centre is vast and outmoded and a pain to get round. The doughnut part is unique, but I hope that whoever buys it can use their imagination to turn this palace of entertainment into something really special. There are rumours that it might become a cinema or theatre. That would be appropriate.

I have recently been writing about physically opening up newsrooms for The Journalist magazine – look out for more posts on this theme in the future.

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