Long before KEXP-FM relocated to Seattle Center in December 2015, the station’s leaders had been forming an ambitious idea for what its new home should be. “We could have found some low-rent property out in Renton, but we saw an opportunity to serve the community by being the first publicly facing radio station,” says Kevin Cole, longtime DJ and host of The Afternoon Show.
What’s now the “Gathering Space” took shape through hours of staff canvassing, community outreach and envisioning sessions with local music legends, including Jeff Ament and Mike McCready. The result? A space open to the public with an espresso co-op, high-speed Wi-Fi, a record store, a transparent DJ booth and a lounge with community tables. For bands—like the ones Cole says were often found asleep in their vans in the parking lot when DJs arrived for the morning shift—it offers a washer and dryer, a shower, a quiet green room and a place to safely store gear.
The 28,000-square-foot space, designed by SkB Architects, also houses a small stage for intimate, free public concerts, which is frequently used for other purposes, including recent tributes to the late Chris Cornell, Prince, David Bowie, Sharon Jones and Leonard Cohen, and events such as benefit concerts, family dance parties, artist education workshops and community gatherings. All of these functions are set to a highly curated soundtrack, of course, and fulfill what station leaders had envisioned: a place to connect.
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