WASHINGTON — NPR is moving to a new $201 million headquarters with all digital equipment in Washington, leaving its analog radio gear behind.
The public radio network began broadcasting Saturday from its new home, nine blocks north of the Capitol in the rapidly gentrifying NoMa neighborhood. NPR is consolidating its 800 Washington-based employees in one massive building after being spread across several sites for years.
The flagship shows “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition” will migrate to the new facility over the next week. “Weekend Edition” was first to broadcast from the new studios.
According to an NPR fact sheet about the new facility, it was designed to accommodate the network’s evolution from a radio broadcaster to a multimedia operation. It includes an open, two-story newsroom where news, music and digital staff work together. Audio is transmitted through a fiber network, and video screens are placed throughout the building. New studios were designed with public viewing areas, and free tours will be offered daily beginning in June.
There’s also an outdoor plaza, a store, a performance studio that seats 250 and museum-style exhibits in the lobby.
The building’s elevators feature the voice of NPR’s special correspondent Susan Stamberg, who joined the staff in 1971, announcing each floor and saying “going up.” This is her fourth move with NPR, and she was giddy, sitting in her new desk Monday.
“It’s just such a marker of progress and what our history has been and all the things that have happened in news and journalism and broadcasting over all of these years,” Stamberg said. “This is a building about the future, I think.”
NPR’s last home was built around 1990s technology and tape machines. It served as the headquarters for more than 19 years. NPR has been based in Washington since its founding in 1970.
The public broadcaster converted an old four-story warehouse that once housed a workshop that made telephone booths — and added seven stories of new construction to the structure. The network spent $201 million over six years to build the new facility, funded with tax-exempt bonds, proceeds from the sale of NPR’s old building downtown and individual gifts.
NPR also has 17 foreign bureaus, 17 U.S. bureaus and a studio in Culver City, Calif. The network says it reaches 26 million radio listeners each week and about 20 million people monthly on digital platforms.
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