DonorsChoose.org, New York
Architect: Eight Inc., New York
A host of generous companies donated materials and offered discounts and pro-bono consulting to help the online charity move into a 10,000-square-foot space on West 37th Street. Among the highlights of the newly renovated space are four bathrooms; staff and volunteers often waited in line to use the three restrooms in the charity’s previous space.
Manufacturer of Champion PRO high-efficiency toilets, Lynbrook 1.0 gpf urinal, Declyn wall-hung ADA-compliant lavatories and stainless-steel undermount Prevoir single-bowl sink: American Standard
Founded by a Bronx public school teacher in 2000, DonorsChoose.org has raised more than $245 million to provide books, technology, classroom supplies, field trips and other materials to more than 11 million public school children. Today, the 65 full-time DonorsChoose.org staff plus 176 interns and volunteers enjoy a fresh, fun work environment. DonorsChoose.org is much like a tech company, using digital tools in innovative ways. In fact, Oprah Winfrey has called it “a revolutionary charity”.
“Our biggest goal was to give them a work environment representing their goals,” says Karina Benloucif, junior designer at Eight Inc. “For that reason, we wanted to have a forward-thinking tech startup feel yet not too modern and isolating. We leveraged the nostalgia of school years past—the things we remember as children. We chose iconic schoolhouse forms and reinterpreted them for the modern office.”
Hence, the bright storage cubbies, locker-lined hallways, blackboards, wall art reminiscent of old-fashioned world globes and microscopes, and hopscotch games stenciled on the floors. The materials are neutral—untreated pine and unfinished metal. The bright pops of colors—blue, green, orange, red and yellow—are cheerful yet modern and sophisticated. “It was a fun project, balancing those two sides,” Benloucif adds.