Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Exploring the Akron Headquarters of the New Knight Center

Sept. 22, 2008, 4:01 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Editor's note: Scott Piepho is an Akron blogger; below, he walks us through the new Akron headquarters of the Knight Center of Digital Excellence. The video was shot by Knight V.P. of Communications Marc Fest and edited by webmaster Robertson Adams.

High tech gear and a fruit salad of furniture colors meet turn-of-last-century architecture as the staff of the Knight Center of Digital Excellence settle in to their Akron headquarters. Three weeks ago the center took over the seventh floor of renovated downtown office building, hosting a grand opening event that brought together Knight Foundation program officers from around the country.

Knight Center Banner

The Knight Center offices serve as work space for the staff of the online Resource Center and as a home base for the members of the Connected Communities Team (CCT). Two of the CCT Program Managers ' Todd Adams and Jim Nice -- work out of Akron. Team director Karen Archer Perry works from her home in New Jersey and Lynda Goff, the newest member of the team, works out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The center headquarters gives the team space to meet and collaborate. This week all four were in town to touch base and share ideas.

'We are doing something new; we are trying to create a new model,' explains Ms. Perry. In each community the team is trying to encourage connectivity projects developed and ultimately owned by the community. Team members take time to compare notes on how that model works in different communities with different needs, assets and cultures.

In any organization with a strong field staff, calling them home can be a challenge. The new Knight Center offers an appealing place to come home to. The building retains much of its classic interior. The elevator opens into a hallway wainscoted in marble ' complete with a built-in drinking fountain. Original wood-grained doors (metal as it turns out ' first of their kind in Akron) include textured glass and still-functioning transoms.


But beyond a hallway which could double as an Eddie Capra movie set, the office space is funky modern. Two-drawer filing cabinets on casters double as ottomans topped with brightly upholstered pads. Meeting room chairs and cabinet tops were ordered in each color offered ' a first, which prompted the manufacturer to visit and take pictures of the prismatic cheeriness.

Program Manager Todd Q. Adams at work in the Connected Communities Team office space

Most of all, the office is full of light, with gaping window offering views of northern downtown and beyond, across the Cuyahoga River valley. 'It's a big difference being in this building,' notes Perry. 'We had no windows in the Cleveland offices.'

The center continues settling in and melding the old and the new. The latest delivery is a state-of-the-art smart board that staff are now learning to use. The next should be a map cabinet ' Program Manager Jim Nice still likes paper maps.