There is a saying that you have only one chance to make a good first impression. When it comes to architecture, you have three chances to make a good first impression: landscaping, the front entrance, and the lobby/reception area. WRAL scores high on all three.
However, there was a time when the lobby inside the old broadcast building was showing its age and was less than inviting. The original lobby was a small space that appeared to be more like an appendage to the engineering hallway. The area was rather dark and drab. The only element that communicated welcome and brightness was through the cheerful personalities of the receptionists. By the mid-80s, the lobby was screaming for an update.
In 1985, WRAL’s business manager, Leah Chauncey, was tasked as project manager for a brand new lobby/reception area. The architects were Ben Taylor and Mike Majeski of Environtek of Raleigh. Sparrow Construction of Raleigh was the builder. The two story design called for an extension beyond the building to include part of the breeze-way bridge, a soaring ceiling that allowed sunlight to stream into the lobby, and a glass enclosed sitting area that gave the illusion of sitting in a garden. A new outdoor feature included a patio overlooking the WRAL gardens.
Construction began April 15, 1985. The switchboard operators/receptionists Jay Dublin and Laurie Beaton had to work out of temporary quarters in the old videotape cart storage room. Even in cramped quarters they continued to provide professional, courteous first impressions to WRAL visitors.
The new lobby opened late 1985. It scored high on the wow factor scale. Everyone was so excited that we had our staff picture taken in front of it.
The lobby received a face-lift in 2013. The architectural footprint held its own; no over-haul needed except for a few touch-ups. After a few weeks of construction, fresh coat of paint, new furniture, new carpet, and new art elements, the lobby was ready to go. The Directors of First Impressions and the building are once again in harmony.
Thanks to Corp’s Pam Allen for this capcom story. Pam Parris Allen is a former WRAL newscast producer/director who now works as a researcher and producer on the CBC History Project.