National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

From improving a layout to enable teamwork to expressing culture through design details, the built environment can enable organizational mission and strategy.

This renovation transforms inefficient and dark office suites into an open, natural light-filled workplace for a leading research group focused on making advancements in healthcare through neuroscience.

Bethesda, MD

11,500 SF

Interior Design
Building Systems Engineering

Year / Status

Our Approach

This shift was achieved by eliminating departmental suites and opening up the floor with a large corridor that serves as the primary circulation path. Along this curve, a flexible area provides space for collaboration and the opportunity for chance meetings to bring a greater sense of community. Private offices and large meeting spaces are all oriented around this core that features expansive views of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus.

An open floor plan in combination with interior glass partitions provides over 80% of offices with direct access to natural light. The design balances private workspace for heads-down work with open, flexible communal space. Built for adaptability, all offices are modular in design with demountable interior partitions. This allows for future expansion and flexibility in layouts of departments.


The overall design aesthetic is inspired by the synaptic spark of a neuron, a central element of the organization’s research. Functioning as information messengers, neurons use electrical impulses and chemical signals to transmit information to the brain and the nervous system. Design details such as hexagonal ceiling tiles, linear lighting placement, and abstract patterns come together to evoke this energy and connectivity, fostering a personal connection with the space and NINDS’ mission.