Teach for America’s (TFA) national headquarters in New York supports the nonprofit’s mission to provide an exceptional education to all children. The headquarters spans three floors of a commercial building in Lower Manhattan and accommodates 600 staff members and visiting teachers, alumni, donors and board members. Using an education-inspired theme for building materials and fixtures, the design team emphasized TFA’s strong brand throughout the space.
The interior design takes advantage of the building’s unusual shape by using the H-shaped floor plates to help define different areas. The open office space is equipped with a variety of collaborative areas that serve the daily needs of staff, while the centrally located shared spaces encourage interaction with visitors.
Interactive surfaces including chalkboard, marker board and cork evoke teaching moments. Playful primary colors delineate space types and provide wayfinding cues that help visitors navigate the large floor plate. Because many of the schools served by TFA are underequipped, the resource center provides its teachers with access to computers, reference materials, copiers and stationery.
A café overlooking the resource center converts into a multipurpose auditorium with a double-height screen. Additional resources located along “Service Avenue” include a wellness center for health service events, a “Tech Shack” offering IT assistance and a mail center.
The design showcases the individuality of TFA corps members and their unique teaching experiences. A video wall in the reception area enables guests to listen to participants talk about their work while portrait wall running up the three-story staircase features more than 500 snapshots of students and teachers from across the country.