Washington, DC

Youth For Understanding

Service Type

Project Type

30,000 sf


YFU selected the historic Wonder Bread building in the Shaw neighborhood of DC for their new headquarters location. YFU is a global alliance of 60 countries working together to create educational exchanges for youth, families and communities. Started in 1951 YFU, is one of the oldest and most respected international exchange programs. YFU desired a space that captures the youthful spirit of its students and expresses the unique character of the building while providing a welcoming environment where dignitaries, board members and donors feel at home.

The space reflects the relaxed culture of the organization and the importance of the mission, balancing professionalism and fun. Characteristics of the building, including exposed brick, steel columns, ductwork and wood structure, are expressed throughout the space. The simple, relaxed reception area welcomes guests with a reclaimed wood trestle table reception desk and comfortable wingback chairs. Complimenting the existing concrete floors and steel columns, wood flooring is used on the walls to add texture and warmth inexpensively while orange niches will eventually display YFU history. Sliding wood/glass stud walls enclose the boardroom, which opens to reception for large gatherings. The wood walls and fabric panels mimic the running bond brick pattern of the building.

The café is located near the reception to take advantage of the historic windows. Vintage clocks are displayed in the café to indicate the time in countries where YFU students reside. Various types of seating, including a large farm table, encourage use during all times of the day.