Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice

Architect: Gensler

Owner: Ford Foundation

Location: New York, New York

Project site: Historic structure or district

Building program type(s): Office - 100,001 or greater, Public Assembly - Social/Meeting

The historic Ford Foundation headquarters, completed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates in 1968, was hailed as a modernist architectural icon. The new overhaul, a landmark in modernist preservation, transforms a 50-year-old building into a 21st century workplace and public amenity.

The redesign maintains and enhances the building’s original character while significantly improving functionality, transparency, and accessibility. Many spaces, finishes, and furnishings were redesigned to be seamless with what already existed. The LEED Platinum renewal also modernizes the structure with New York City safety code and New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission requirements.

In 2018, after a two-year renovation, the landmark building reopened as the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice. More than a headquarters, the center is a vibrant, accessible hub for champions of social justice. The design approach reflects the foundation’s core values of transparency, collaboration, inclusion, and empowerment. Previously, private offices lined the atrium perimeter, giving a select group the most privileged views. Today, the few remaining private offices and enclosed spaces line the outer edge of the building, making the atrium visually accessible to everyone and providing a clear view from 42nd to 43rd streets. With the Ford Foundation’s desire to include like-minded tenants and also increase convening space, the design team developed a more efficient floorplan for the workplace, thus allowing over 50 percent of the building to be dedicated to both public and grantee programs.

The reborn building restores a significant landmark while creating a high-performance interior embodying the foundation’s mission "to promote the inherent dignity of all people.”The historic Ford Foundation headquarters, completed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates in 1968, was hailed as a modernist architectural icon. The new overhaul, a landmark in modernist preservation, transforms a 50-year-old building into a 21st century workplace and public amenity.

"The new design adds adjustments and changes to its planning that make it more public and equitable. The garden is reestablished as a public oasis that invites the community in, and following the current values of the Ford Foundation, the building makes room for like-minded partners in a more collaborative structure." - Jury comment

The redesign maintains and enhances the building’s original character while significantly improving functionality, transparency, and accessibility. Many spaces, finishes, and furnishings were redesigned to be seamless with what already existed. The LEED Platinum renewal also modernizes the structure with New York City safety code and New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission requirements.

In 2018, after a two-year renovation, the landmark building reopened as the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice. More than a headquarters, the center is a vibrant, accessible hub for champions of social justice. The design approach reflects the foundation’s core values of transparency, collaboration, inclusion, and empowerment. Previously, private offices lined the atrium perimeter, giving a select group the most privileged views. Today, the few remaining private offices and enclosed spaces line the outer edge of the building, making the atrium visually accessible to everyone and providing a clear view from 42nd to 43rd streets. With the Ford Foundation’s desire to include like-minded tenants and also increase convening space, the design team developed a more efficient floorplan for the workplace, thus allowing over 50 percent of the building to be dedicated to both public and grantee programs.

The reborn building restores a significant landmark while creating a high-performance interior embodying the foundation’s mission "to promote the inherent dignity of all people.”

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of design completion: 2016

Year of substantial project completion: 2018

Gross conditioned floor area: 415,869 sq ft

Number of stories: 13

Project climate zone: ASHRAE 4

Annual hours of operation: 2,080

Site area: 38,204 sq ft

Project site context/setting: urban

Cost of construction, excluding furnishing: $190,000,000

Number of residents, occupants, visitors: 384

Project team

Architect: Gensler

Atrium Fountain Consultant: Delta Fountains

Audio Visual, IT, Security & Acoustical: Cerami & Associates Food Service: Cini-Little International, Inc.

Brick Conservator: Integrated Conservation Resources, Inc.

Exterior Envelope/Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti

Fire Safety & Code Consultant: Milrose Consultants, Inc.

Fitness Consultant: Club Design Concepts

Landmarks Consultant: Higgins Quasebarth & Partners LLC

Landscape Design: Jungles Studio in collaboration with SiteWorks

Lighting Designer: Fisher Marantz Stone

MEP Engineer: Jaros Baum & Bolles

Vertical Transportation: Van Deusen & Associates

Jury

Robert Berkebile, FAIA, BNIM Architects

Roy Decker, FAIA, Duvall Decker Architects

William Horgan, Assoc. AIA, Grimshaw

Vivian Loftness, FAIA, Carnegie Mellon University

Andrea Love, AIA, Payette

Image credits

Ford Foundation 01

Garrett Rowland

Ford Foundation 09

Garrett Rowland

Ford Foundation 04

Garrett Rowland

Ford Foundation 14

Garrett Rowland

Ford Foundation 08

Garrett Rowland

Ford Foundation Street Views

Garrett Rowland