KQED Breaks Ground on New Headquarters

Hank Barry, Michael Isip, Mayor London Breed, John Boland, Anne Avis and Rebecca Sharkey.  (Kirsten Voss)

Two-year project will transform KQED’s headquarters into a hub for civic engagement and journalism in the 21st century

KQED, the public media station serving Northern California, held a groundbreaking ceremony at its San Francisco headquarters located at 2601 Mariposa Street today. The major renovation project, led by the award-winning design firm EHDD Architects, will transform KQED’s headquarters to accommodate the station’s significant staff growth over the past decade and the expansive nature of the services it provides audiences today. It will also create brand new onsite spaces for in-person events, programs and convening.

To signal the start of construction of the two-year project, KQED President Michael Isip was joined by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Senator Scott Wiener, KQED President Emeritus John Boland, KQED Board Chair Hank Barry, Campaign 21 Chair Anne Avis, and EHDD Principal Rebecca Sharkey to provide comments about the project and how the new design reflects an ambitious vision for the future of the station and its increasing civic and journalistic role in the Bay Area community.

“We are doing more than creating a better and beautiful building,” said Isip. “What we are creating is a place of trust so that we can be more open and accessible to our community. A place of trust that drives innovation with more modern production spaces, studios and distribution capabilities to keep pace with technology and our audiences’ needs. A place of trust that enables collaboration so that the best public media talent can not only create, but can thrive. And a place of trust that is for community, so that our community can come in and connect with our journalists, stories, talent from PBS and NPR, civic leaders and thought leaders. More importantly, so that they can connect with each other to foster civic and civil dialogue to find common ground.”

Rendering courtesy of EHDD Architects.

The project reinvents a 156,000-square-foot building that KQED purchased in 1992. The building reflected the industrial nature of broadcasting and the neighborhood at the time. But over the past 25 years, KQED has grown from 200 to nearly 500 employees, while the types of services the station provides today spans not only radio and television broadcast, but also digital programming; original storytelling encompassing science, education, arts and culture; and a vastly expanded local and statewide reporting service. The outer Mission District neighborhood surrounding KQED has also changed. Warehouses and factories have been replaced by residential housing complexes, restaurants, cafes and art spaces.


“To open up this space to members of the public and community, this is going to be transformative and exciting,” said Mayor Breed. Senator Wiener added, ”This is such an exciting project. It’s going take KQED not just to the next level, but four levels up in terms of being an even more effective media outlet, but also better incorporation of the entire community into this institution.”

When the new KQED headquarters opens in 2021, visitors will be greeted by a glassy, dynamic façade reflective of KQED’s long-standing values of transparency, innovation, collaboration and community. A lifted corner entry, an expanded lobby and vibrant new programming and community spaces, including a multipurpose event space called “The Commons,” will create a vibrant and welcoming place to convene and engage with the station, its content and programs, and with journalists. A reimagined newsroom and production spaces will create a workspace with maximum flexibility and conducive to collaboration and innovation. The new space will be able to accommodate 40% further staff growth. The building will expand by 9,000 square feet, becoming 165,000 square feet total.

The $91 million renovation project is being funded by Campaign 21, the station’s transformational campaign to support innovation and expand services. KQED has moved operations temporarily to 50 Beale Street in downtown San Francisco for the duration of construction.

About KQED
KQED serves the people of Northern California with a public-supported alternative to commercial media. An NPR and PBS affiliate based in San Francisco, KQED is home to one of the most listened-to public radio stations in the nation, one of the highest-rated public television services and an award-winning education program helping students and educators thrive in 21st-century classrooms. A trusted news source and leader and innovator in interactive technology, KQED takes people of all ages on journeys of exploration — exposing them to new people, places and ideas.