Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders (aka Médecins Sans Frontières) is a non-profit that treats people where the need is greatest. This Nobel Prize winning medical humanitarian organization relocated their NYC headquarters to lower Manhattan, almost doubling the size of their former location in North Chelsea. Doctors Without Borders does the urgent and necessary work of helping people threatened by violence, neglect, natural disasters, epidemics, and health emergencies across the world.

The design of the new Manhattan office, which hosts and councils field operators, facilitates logistics and conferences between the continents of South America and Europe, as well as promotes medical humanitarian research, needed to be soothing, peaceful, welcoming, and efficient. Two 30,000 sqft floors were given a gut renovation before construction began; the idea was to start with a clean slate and use honest materials like reclaimed wood; the decision to not include any materials that were too loud or elaborate was done on purpose.

With a special capacity for a daily staff of 300 people, this office is also a touchdown space for many doctors travelling internationally.

Overall, this space was designed to be an honest, calm, and consistent container for the wide range of intentions and emotions for this deeply compassionate organization.

An open concept café, located on the reception floor, right by the connecting stair case, is intended for collaboration and cross-pollination of the diverse population here that regularly convenes for meals and informal meetings.

The cafe is the heart of this office, infusing vital energy, while the dedicated library space upstairs provides a sanctuary for the times that require head-down work and contemplation.

The color palette for this project was chosen to be soothing with muted color tones, allowing for the occasional pop of their trademark red, which figures prominently in the Doctors Without Borders logo.

Colorful custom digital wall coverings pepper the space; each installation containing field images of the doctors and their patients in the countries they operate, providing meaningful inspiration and atmospheric design punctuation throughout the space.

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