Human Rights in China
New York, NY

3,500 sf •325 SQ M

When Human Rights in China commissioned Davis Brody Bond to totally renovate a suite in the Empire State Building, They gave us a program that called for significantly more space than the 3,500 sf available. We responded with a flexible system that easily transforms into the set of spaces needed at any given moment. The system is based on compact archival shelving and combines off-the-shelf components from several manufacturers. The basic unit is a thick upright on floor tracks that can be a wall, storage, workstation, or any combination thereof. These units are strategically placed throughout the suite so they can slide into new configurations, transitioning from “office scene” into “conference scene” into “exhibit scene” into “reception scene.” This flexibility has proven very successful in practice.

At the detail level, each unit is color coded according to its primary use. “Inactive” panels are turned into low-cost light boxes with a simple assembly of fluorescent tubes and polyacrylic sheet. The ceiling structure is left exposed wherever possible; a planar soffit conceals duct runs.

The process was an exemplar of public/private sector collaboration between design professionals and not-for-profit groups. The design and build-out required a high degree of creativity to address the client’s constraints and ambitions. Davis Brody Bond produced a unique project that, with its openness, flexibility, and translucent surfaces, is a spatial representation of the freedoms championed by Human Rights in China.