Eight Inc. designs the new DonorsChoose.org headquarters in New York City
Eight Inc. recently teamed up and donated design services to DonorsChoose.org for their new headquarters in New York City. DonorsChoose.org is a national non-profit that has channeled over $237 million in books, art supplies, field trips, and other resources to more than a million students in low-income public schools.
A rapidly growing organization, DonorsChoose.org transitioned 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. By designing a space with minimal traditional walls, millwork display walls that dual as storage units, and flexible work tables, the Eight Inc. design team was able to achieve these parameters in a simple and straightforward layout.
“Eight Inc. took on DonorsChoose.org as a passion project, and they’ve had a transformative impact on our organization,” said Charles Best, Founder and CEO. “Over the last year, the Eight Inc. team has poured themselves into the creation of our space, working as artists on every detail. The result is an office that has made our team even happier, even more inspired and even more energized to help great teachers do great things for their students.”
The design concept was influenced by an iconic schoolhouse by taking the tools and forms typically found in educational spaces and reinterpreting them for the modern office. The space is intended to delight and energize staff while giving a nostalgic nod towards education.
Upon entering the space, visitors are greeted by a custom oak and steel gallery wall that highlights both hand-written thank you notes and digital info-graphics. This gesture represents the two sides of what makes DonorsChoose.org so exceptional- their resolve to push the boundaries of technology while remaining dedicated to the personal and human aspects of their mission.
Details referencing schools and the means of teaching are integrated into the design in a number of ways. There are chalkboard walls that feature commissioned chalk murals, hopscotch stencils painted on the floor of the hallways, wooden storage cubbies in the gallery wall, custom floating shelves made from colorful vintage books and curated vignettes of iconic educational objects on display. Additional details that support the unique work culture of DonorsChoose.org include the provision of “focus” and “zen” nooks for private conversations or tasks, a quiet room that functions dually as a maternity room, bike racks for alternative commuters and a shower in one of the private restrooms. The subtle reference to classrooms continues in the palette of natural materials and soft tones with bright pops of color, and the use of playful school-related iconography present throughout the space.
Through a joint effort, Eight Inc. collaborated with Lux Populi, a Mexico City based lighting design firm, who donated their design services to the project. Charitable donations were made by ABC Carpet & Home, American Standard, Berco, Best Buy, Birchwood Lighting, C3 Design, Daltile, Fidelus, FilzFelt, Grainger, Interface FLOR, Kimball, Pfister, Poppin, Quill.com, School Specialty, The Shade Store, Sherwin Williams, Teachers School Supply, Vandersluis and Target to bring together this working “playground.”
“This project leaves me with nothing but pride for playing a huge part in an amazing philanthropic gift,” said Senior Designer, Alison Mann. From large scale to small, the details in the space simultaneously evoke nostalgia for a visitors’ school-experience from the past and an excitement for how DonorsChoose.org is changing education for the future.
Founded in 2000, DonorsChoose.org makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. At this nonprofit website, teachers at half of all the public schools in America have created project requests, and more than a million people have donated $237 million to projects that inspire them. All told, 11 million students—most from low-income communities, and many in disaster-stricken areas—have received books, art supplies, field trips, technology, and other resources that they need to learn.
Visit http://www.donorschoose.org/intro to hear Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Colbert tell the DonorsChoose.org story.