Washington DC, USA
Human Rights Watch is an international NGO that conducts research and advocacy on human rights to make impactful change on a global scale. To amplify the voices of victims and tell stories around the major issues affecting the world their workplace needs to fully enable their staff.
In DC, Human Rights Watch previously had an outdated, unsecure, and uninspiring space. Containing high cubicles, an ineffective café, and dark, non-transparent offices, staff were less apt to come in. Preferring our design approach in test fits and liking the value that our methodology brings, they partnered with us to design and build a new office that their employees can be proud of.
One of the most significant design interventions was to make the space as accessible as possible, in many instances beyond what is required by ADA. Throughout the space there are counters, coat hooks, and card readers that are wheelchair accessible as well as corner guards, automatic doors, all gender bathrooms, and high contrast wall outlets.
Sustainability and wellness was also important, and the space features a locally sourced wood feature wall as well as a clear focus on recycling. Instead of having small trash cans and recycling bins at workstations, larger trash and recycling receptacles are built into walls strategically positioned throughout the space. This requires staff to get up from their desks and move around the office, and also creates more chance encounters. Having greenery in the space was important and to reduce singular potted plants, we designed built-in planters. Offices now also have glass fronts allowing much more natural light to filter across the floorplan.
The lobby and reception had specific requirements for the level of security and accessibility required so there are two sets of locking doors via card readers, but to keep the space feeling welcoming and open, it is all glass with branding and lounge seating.
The overall look is clean and measured reflecting their brand. Dark blue contrasting with white accents the lighter blue in their logo and is mixed with features like reclaimed wood, custom slatted millwork, and acoustic ceiling panels. The layout maximizes collaboration with more meeting spaces, but also has opportunities to focus with small breakout areas that have acoustical privacy where staff can get a change of pace from their workstations.
Our delivery team enabled them to move in on their scheduled date, and staff have been very happy with the space resulting in a higher in-office attendance than their previous space. Having been pleased with our communication and collaboration on the DC project, we are now working with HRW on their Headquarters in NYC.