Last year, architect Danish Kurani completed a new tech lab in New York City in partnership with Black Girls Code. As a place where young women from all over New York can come together to learn about technology, the revamp project includes 3,900 square feet of space at Google’s New York offices that were turned into a tech exploration lab.
Black Girls Code is a non-profit with the mission to teach computer science to young women. As Kurani explains, young women in New York can now explore technology with a lab of their own. He said that, “I designed the lab for kids to see how technology works inside. What’s inside a smartphone, how does a circuit board use copper, are there similarities between cameras and computers. The design takes us back to breaking things open and exploring how they’re made. When you remove the mysterious shell, they see that tech is just parts and pieces, hardware and software they can tinker with and design themselves.”
Visitors attending workshops will be able to interact with an assortment of gadgets curated and cracked-open by the staff. The lab has an interactive game challenging kids to match popular products like VR headsets and a Playstation with their lesser-known hardware. Even the ceiling is special, demonstrating how a motherboard works with copper circuits. The space, across from Chelsea Market, is home for the non-profit’s staff, student workshops, hack-a-thons, tech panels, and parent-daughter events.
According to Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code, “This design lab is just a first step in our much larger vision to create a series of innovative design labs in several of the communities where we have BGC chapters. It’s been a pleasure to work with Kurani to bring our first design lab to life and to create a space which centers our tech divas as tech innovators and allows them to tap into their inner Shuris to build the technology which will shape all of our future tomorrows.”
Danish Kurani explained that, "As an immigrant, I've experienced first hand how education propels you to create a good life for yourself. Education helps level the playing field. It's one of the most important things we do as a society. And yet, the way we deliver education isn't always effective or equitable. Education is a lever. It’s the best means we have to make a better world. When we choose which capacities we want to develop in our children, we are choosing what kind of world we want them to inhabit and to create. The project of Education is always Utopian.”
Danish Kurani is the founder of the firm Kurani, an international design and innovation practice. Drawing on his teachings at Harvard and Stanford University, the office is involved in projects across the globe. Embracing diverse scales of intervention, from furniture to campuses, the work of the practice focuses on innovation in learning environments.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on February 20, 2020 and updated on September 7, 2021.