A rapidly growing organization, DonorsChoose.org enlisted Eight Inc. to transition them from a traditional office space to a floor of a beautiful open loft building in the Garment District. In the move to a larger space, they sought additional conference rooms, better light quality, less clutter, and the ability to accommodate future growth in an effortless and uniform way. All while upgrading the design to a more modern and sophisticated aesthetic.
The design concept focused on utilizing a natural color palette with pops of color and education-based graphics that mimic an iconic schoolhouse aesthetic. A custom oak and steel gallery wall highlighting hand-written thank you notes and digitally represented statistics greets the visitor upon arrival. This visually leads the eye to the true essence of the organization: Donor Appreciation Land – a space where teacher and student volunteers congregate to organize and ship out the hundreds of handwritten thank you notes from students received to the office daily. This aesthetic of natural wood and steel wraps onto the conference room block as wall cladding to lead the eye into the heart of the space: the “playground.” It is here that the relaxed and collaborative working environment of the company shines. A variety of furniture arrangements sits in this open space flanked to one side by the conference room block and to the other by the open kitchen. At any time during the day, one can find someone working on their laptop or a team of three having a breakout session around a table. Once a week the space transforms to hold all hands meetings, or even afternoon yoga sessions.
The remainder of the space along the north and south perimeter of the building is the workspace for the quickly multiplying staff. To allow for quick and seamless growth, Eight Inc. designed custom plywood and steel tables. With little visual clutter and no horizontal barrier – these tables are true collaborative work surfaces. Lux Populi designed these work spaces with indirect lighting that throws light up onto the ceiling above illuminating the space evenly without creating any visual glare on computer screens. Notable details such as chalkboard are in the playground, stenciled playground games on the painted floor of the hallways, “focus” and “zen” nooks for private conversations, and a quiet room that functions dually as a maternity room help to unify the concept of the space. From large scale to small, the design evokes a positive yet nostalgic nod towards education.
“As an ongoing demonstration of extreme generosity, Eight Inc. has transformed our San Francisco office into a world-class space rivaled only by its New York counterpart,” – Charles Best, Chief Executive Officer
Housed in the 1920’s Varlow Building, DonorsChoose.org occupies an entire floor of this historic building. In collaboration with VWB Architects, the new space has been created to support their unique business model and working style. The most significant feature in the space is a centrally located “fort” built from a system of modular wood boxes. This structure houses multiple functions and removable panels of felt, chalkboard material or wood allow for infinite combinations of use and aesthetic. The space tructure accommodates a meeting room, a study nook, pin-up surfaces and multiple options for storage and display. Workstations and collaborative tables are dispersed throughout the space to provide a variety of public and private working postures.
Other physical interventions are minimal to respect the historic fabric of the building. Floor to ceiling windows on one end look out onto the Powell St. cable car line giving users feel a strong connection to the city in which they live and work. Expanses of brick wall are exposed and the unique coffered concrete ceiling offers an opportunity to highlight the beauty of the existing building structure.