The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) hired midtown Manhattan studio COOKFOX to design its new headquarters with the goal of exceeding its own standards for health-focused work environments. The historic building dates back to 1912, a challenge that the client company welcomed in order to demonstrate WELL standards’ applicability for a wide range of project types. The office space has since achieved WELL Platinum Certification for its commitment to employee wellness.

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IWBI provides the leading global standard for buildings, interior spaces and communities that support and advance human health and wellness. WELL Certification guidelines are currently being used in 60 countries with over 4,100 buildings either certified or pursuing certification.

Related: Newly renovated Seventh Generation HQ focuses on sustainability

office with brick walls and standing desks
long wood meeting table in room with brick wall, glass divider and a large plant in the corner

COOKFOX’s own studio, located near the new IWBI HQ, had already achieved WELL Gold certification back in 2017, so the two companies were able to easily work together to develop strategies. The design emphasized wellness ideals such as the maximization of natural light and air, thoughtful recycled and low-impact building materials and high-filtration air ventilation systems. The office provides healthy food in its kitchens and increases employee connectivity to nature through the use of plants, light and fresh air to encourage an active work style.

small lounge with wood table and beige chair
people sitting at long wood meeting table in room with brick walls

“With access to natural light, dynamic workstations and a combination of both design and policy elements that support mental resilience, the IWBI team truly felt a sense of ownership and pride in our office space,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of IWBI. “By creating a space that mirrors our values, our journey to certification has been an especially meaningful and enlightening experience for us, and one that we intend to share with our community. The space is more than just a headquarters for our staff; it is an extension of our values and a showcase of what WELL stands for. We invite our community to visit, work and learn with us when we can.”

office kitchen with long gray island and exposed brick walls
two people and a dog in lounge area with long gray sofa, brick walls and several plants

Especially given the current COVID-19 health crisis, IWBI tackled the additional task of ensuring a supplemental virus-free and future-resilient work environment as employees begin to return to work. This included efficient air ventilation and filtration, hand-washing stations, additional cleaning product protocols and food safety.


Photography by Eric Laignel via COOKFOX