Designing the future of work to be collaborative, and healthy: National Public Radio’s New Headquarters, Washington, DC USA

In the newsroom, with Marty Garrison, Vice President of Technology Operations, Distribution, and Broadcast Engineering for NPR (View on

The headquarters for the iconic National Public Radio (@npr) recently (March, 2013) moved in to the same neighborhood in Washington, DC, that the Center for Total Health (@kptotalhealth) inhabits, NoMa (North of Mass), and when I found out from Vanessa Garrison (@GirlTrek) that it was engineered for health, I asked to get a tour. Not just for myself, but for the Innovation Learning Network, whose 2014 in person meeting will be hosted by the Center for Total Health, Military Health System (@healthdotmil), and Medstar Institute for Innovation (@MI2Innovation).

I am scouting locations for the innovation safari experience, where people in health care can learn about innovation in unexpected places. And…I found it here.

On a tour given by Marty Garrison, Stephanie Clifford, and Pam Dorsey, I learned about a lot of innovative changes made when NPR moved from its old home to the new.


Marty told me he’s built several newsrooms, and this one has special features, such as a master control that’s embedded rather than located far away from the news desk. Studios have directors positioned next to engineers instead of behind them. And engineers face the talent instead of seeing them in their left peripheral view. Note that the studio allows natural light in, not an easy thing for a sound-controlled environment.


Pam and Stephanie showed me many things new to the new NPR. There’s an on site primary care clinic staffed by a nurse practitioner who provides primary care with an emphasis on prevention. There’s a full fitness center. The food service is being transitioned to a healthy menu with nutrition labeling. And the bike racks – there are many. There are health messages throughout the building, and excercise happens everywhere – the spin bikes have been located on the 7th floor offices, where the view is the best. The stair landings (located in the center of the building), also house exercise sessions with trainers.

The building is LEED Gold certified, and employs a landfill diversion strategy, including composting. This is leading edge for DC, which I have learned does not have good composting infrastructure (that’s my next field trip).

None of these things in isolation seem out of the ordinary for an innovative employer. Except that Pam and Stephanie are not doctors, or even clinicians. I think what this shows me is that people know what health is, and there will never be enough doctors, nurses, pedometers, or apps, to equal what can be done with leadership and an environment that supports health instead of getting in the way of it.

As I have said previously on this blog, our cities are changing. The place we work are, too.

Photos of the building and the neighborhood around it are below. Click to enlarge. Thanks for taking me on a tour of the workplace of the future. In the present. In the best city and neighborhood around.

I’m looking forward to going to take another look with the Innovation Learning Network (@healthcareILN)


Ted Eytan, MD