NBCU Area 51 Sound Stages and Production Support Building


Universal City


NBCUniversal, Inc.


Bastien & Associates

Project Size

61,766 SF

The first new ground-up soundstages on the NBCUniversal lot in over 50 years, Area 51 houses two 18,000 sf soundstages and an adjacent three-story production building, approximately 9,000 sf. MATT took the sound stages from foundation-only permit to production move-in within seven months, and the support building to substantial completion within eight months. Conception to completion (design, permitting, move-out of existing tenants, demolition, construction and owner move-in) of the entire project was less than 15 months.

The three-floor production facility includes green rooms and dressing rooms on the ground floor and meeting rooms and office space on the second and third floors. Due to the soil conditions, the foundation was built on 323 torque-down piles with a 500 psf capacity slab. The sound stages, each with an NC 25 sound rating, were built as a tilt-up concrete structure with CMU demising. The stages are 35-foot clear height to the bottom of the catwalk and lighting grid. 14 wooden bow trusses support the grid. MATT self-performed the rough carpentry, including building and erecting each of the 35,000-pound trusses and hoisting them into place by crane. The stages also house four exterior electronically controlled 20′ x 20′ elephant doors.

Working around commercial shoots and the Universal lot tram tour, MATT utilized the ConXtech steel framing system for the production support building. Through coordination with the subcontractor, architect, structural engineer and surveyor, the structure went up in four days. MATT expedited the already tight schedule to facilitate NBCU’s network broadcast date for the production of “Hairspray Live.” The production was able to move into the sound stages one month earlier than scheduled. This was accomplished through MATT’s collaboration with the local building and safety jurisdictions, the fire department, ownership and the production team.

Photo Credit: Nathaniel Riley