Spacesmith Debuts Headquarters Design for New York Legal Assistance Group, Leader in Access to Justice

Consolidated office design increases workday efficiency, points to quality services, and makes clients feel welcomed in modern, healthy surroundings

Known for its work with nonprofits and social service agencies, the international architecture and interiors firm Spacesmith has announced the completion of the new headquarters for the New York Legal Assistance Group, known widely as NYLAG, a civil legal services organization renowned for combatting economic, racial, and social injustice. Spacesmith, which collaborated with developer GFP Real Estate LLC and broker Cushman & Wakefield on this two-floor workplace project, transitioned NYLAG from its three-level building occupancy to a 20% slimmer footprint, creating an efficient, staircase-connected office that’s also welcoming to both staff members and visiting clientele. The office layout incorporates a variety of private, shared and open spaces to meet the legal services organization’s needs, all in adherence to stringent space allocations and budget parameters. The new, modern environment facilitates workday flow, while conveying the nonprofit’s commitment to quality free law services that are provided in a nurturing atmosphere of safety and advocacy.

“Consolidating NYLAG’s offices into a more cohesive and inviting space supports the evidence that well-designed workplaces can help ensure wellbeing and productivity for nonprofits and their in-office client interactions for more successful outcomes,” says architect Marc Gordon, AIA, a partner with Spacesmith. “Streamlining the headquarters with attention to its staff and client needs in updated, aesthetically pleasing, and efficient ways not only affirms NYLAG’s standing as a leading provider of civil legal services but also its daily commitment to aiding people facing justice challenges.”

Of primary importance was the design of the nonprofit’s intake rooms, which Spacesmith designed by incorporating cutting-edge principles of trauma-informed design, such as a warm color palette and natural finishes such as wood that help minimize new clients’ emotional stress during the intake process. Other areas created in the organization’s 56,000-square-foot workplace — serving 315 employees plus 55 summer interns — include smaller yet more efficient private offices, open workstations, as well as meeting rooms ranging from a single-person focus space to a 59-person conference and meeting facility.

To maximize interior natural light in as many spaces as possible, the open workstations align with the longest sides of the building for sunlight exposure, with glass fronts along the enclosed offices at the shorter sides bringing in additional daylight. In client intake rooms, translucent film covers portions of the workplace’s defining glass walls for heightened privacy and a greater sense of safety for clients. Solid wood doors and insulated architectural detailing contribute to acoustic privacy and soundproofing.

Flexibility in the office design also supports productivity. Examples includes the conference room tables, which have access to power similar to a benching system and can be configured into work areas to accommodate the organization’s annual Influx of interns.

Beyond these key attributes, NYLAG’s headquarters offer a welcoming and enjoyable place to work, helping to reward and retain its acclaimed legal talent. A café with bar and banquette seating not only inspires a sense of staff community, but also features a modular design that can be transitioned into a meeting or event room when needed. Other amenity spaces consist of lactation rooms, small pantries, and huddle rooms of various sizes to accommodate the teaming, collegiality and camaraderie inherent in NYLAG’s operations.

Sara Meyers, NYLAG’s chief operating officer, says Spacesmith’s design of the new headquarters beautifully meets the organization’s needs and more. “NYLAG does such critical work for New Yorkers in need,” Meyers explains. “Spacesmith has been part of building a space that will allow our staff to work at its very best for many, many years to come. This is a space we are so proud of and we are thrilled to welcome our clients here.”

New York Legal Assistance Group is the latest in Spacesmith’s nationally recognized record of work for nonprofit and human service organizations. Among the firm’s recent projects for nonprofits and social service agencies are a new building for the poverty assistance group Part of the Solution, workplaces for the global humanitarian aid provider the International Rescue Committee, the Staten Island Family Justice Center for the city of New York, and new facilities for SCO Family of Services and Brooklyn Community Services.

About Spacesmith

Spacesmith is a full-service architecture, interior design, and consulting firm specializing in renovations, adaptive reuse and new buildings for both private and public sector clients. Spacesmith is a team of highly skilled architects, designers, space planners, and project managers. Our partnership with Davis Brody Bond provides us with additional resources to deliver architecture and design services at any scale and location to clients across a wide range of sectors. At Spacesmith we focus with meticulous attention on the concept and details of every project in order to arrive at a solution which is architecturally, socially and skillfully designed. More at