The Education Development Center (EDC) is a global nonprofit organization that designs, delivers, and evaluates innovative programs to address some of the world's most urgent challenges in education, health, and economic opportunity. The EDC headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts is located in a former industrial building. Sasaki's design renders the space flexible, sustainable, and supportive of teamwork and informal collaboration. The design has not only transformed the physical space, but also impacted how people work.
EDC wanted the space to promote their mission of inclusion and collaboration, yet, as researchers, they also needed private spaces for focused work. Their headquarters design provides neighborhoods of open and enclosed private, touchdown and small group workspaces. The neighborhoods border on two large conferencing and informal gathering zones. The result is a unified space that balances privacy and community.
A large, communal piazza accommodates large meetings, group meals, or intimate conversations. Joanne Brady, Director of the Learning and Teaching Division, says, "We have, for the first time, informal meeting places that belong to everyone rather than a center or particular group. The result is more common ownership and use as well as an emerging norm for 'lift your head up, come out of your office, and talk to a colleague when it is productive.'"
The common areas provide meeting space for EDC's far-flung teams of forty or more and also accommodate telecommuter employees. A growing trend nationwide, 17 to 19% of EDC's staff works from home.
Bold color, inviting textures, and general increased visibility contribute to the overall feel of the space. The colors, fabric, bright lights, and spacious hallways all convey a sense of pride. The project was completed within a modest budget, which necessitated creative solutions to achieve such an appealing look and feel. Reclaimed barn board paneling unites two floors of collaborative work zones with rich texture. Cushions added to soft seating provide layers and depth of color.
Sasaki worked closely with lighting designer Atelier 10 to design an attractive and highly efficient lighting system for the space. The design complements the aesthetics of the office space while garnering EDC enormous savings. Efficient light fixtures, smart design, task lights, and occupancy sensors contributed to to the office using over 30% less energy for lighting than required by code, earning EDC a $43,000 energy efficiency incentive from NStar.
Sustainability was important to EDC and the project team. All the wood for the doors and cabinets are sourced from a responsibly managed forest and other materials have high recycled content and are regionally manufactured. The construction team diverted 75% of construction waste from the landfill. Indoor air quality was a high priority for the project. To reduce indoor air contaminants, all of the materials in the building have low or no volatile organic compounds and no added urea formaldehyde. Whenever possible, existing furniture was reused. While not registered with the USGBC, the project was designed to the LEED CI Silver level.
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