Honorable Mention: LatinoJustice PRLDEF
LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a nonprofit that uses the power of law together with education and advocacy to promote the civil rights of Latinos in the United States, enlisted Gensler for the relocation of their headquarters. LatinoJustice PRLDEF selected a space on the 19th floor of The Interchurch Center, a 600,000-square-foot Class-A office building in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, which houses offices and agencies of various ecumenical, educational, and philanthropic organizations. The site was selected for its shared amenities, like-minded tenants, and location rich in Latinx heritage. The center also offered the ability to add supplemental cooling, which was an important requirement for the staff, who often work outside of normal business hours.
Gensler learned through visioning sessions with the entire staff that it was important the new space embody the attributes of: Justice, Action, Equality, Leadership, and Advocacy. The space should also foster collaboration—which had previously been limited in their divided and outdated office—be technologically enabled, have a secured entrance for visiting clients, and contain a central gathering space. The resulting design is a functional, lively, and professional workplace that empowers staff to champion causes impacting the Latinx community—both locally and beyond.
LatinoJustice’s headquarters design is a personalized, culturally rich, and functional space that prioritizes their commitment to their mission and the community they serve. To win a design award of this caliber would increase the visibility of the organization and help strengthen their brand. It would acknowledge the significant impact of providing inspiring workplaces to those who do challenging social work. The new LatinoJustice headquarters is a creative, well thought, and budget-conscious design that has a huge impact on the employee experience, engagement, and productivity. This project proves that, with the right design partner and team, a non-profit budget can afford a workplace that speaks to its mission, values, and character of its team.
Opting for a floorplate of only 8,750-square-feet and a 50% open workplan, the design strategy makes efficient use of multi-purpose spaces. Upon entering, open shelving in the reception area showcases the organization’s achievements and awards. Placed at the center of the floorplan, the gallery, which features rotational artwork by Latinx artists, acts as a “spine” between the workplace on one side and collaboration and support spaces on the other. With today’s social changes and rollback of long-standing civil rights protections happening like never before, LatinoJustice sees an urgency to expand its advocacy and litigation efforts to affect policy and society. By introducing an art gallery into their workplace, LatinoJustice can go deeper into their mission and engage with their community in an impactful way.
Gensler transformed the reception into a gallery wall of art that aligns with their values, allowing guests to immediately engage with the organization’s mission. Inspiration was drawn from Hispanic artists and motifs, like Luis Barragan’s vivid use of color in Mexico and boldly colored and patterned Puerto Rican floor tiles, to bring the LatinoJustice community connections to life. The incorporation of art into their space creates a more giving, engaging, and community-oriented environment than a traditional workplace.
The gallery opens to large conference room through three sets of doors, offering flexible programming for meetings, trainings, and events such as fundraisers and community gatherings. Adjacent to the reception, a smaller conference room is equipped for podcast recordings and video conferencing. The finish palette of vibrant colors, warm wood veneers, and decorative floor tiles were selected to evoke a “home away from home” atmosphere. A communal table in the café space further reflects LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s family-like culture.