First Look: Inside the New Edyth Bush Building

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The stage is set for a new chapter in the history of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation with the long awaited move into its new headquarters at 199 S. Knowles Ave.

The 49-year-old nonprofit has made grants of well over $100 million to the Central Florida community and has won numerous national, regional, and local awards for its work, but operated for more than a decade out of an aging building on the corner of E. Welbourne and S. Knowles Avenues.

New construction began shortly after the 2020 demolition of the foundation’s former building, and was officially completed earlier this month. “We were given the certificate of occupation on June 17 and we should be moved in before the end of this week,” said President and CEO David Odahowski.

The 17,000-square-foot building is known as “The Edyth” and was designed as a tribute to its namesake, who was a dancer, actress, and playwright.

With architecture inspired by a stage, “The Edyth” is meant to be a tribute to its namesake.

“The gray brick walls would be the wings of a theater,” Odahowski said. “That’s where the curtain would be pulled back and the actors would come across the main stage, which is what we’re calling the first floor.”

“The Balcony” is one of the building’s many collab spaces.

A breakout meeting space, dubbed “The Balcony,” overlooks the two-story atrium. Guest-facing areas are referred to as “front of house” while administration offices, break rooms, kitchens, and storage areas are known as “back of house.”

Aside from her creative inspirations, the building is meant to represent the ideals of the Edyth Bush Foundation by offering community spaces that include:

  • A 700-square-foot, first-floor gallery space, designed to host exhibitions and pop-up shops.
  • Public Wi-Fi, co-working spaces and meeting rooms that can be used by community and nonprofit organizations.

“There are some nonprofits that may have issues of privacy or just have a small office, so they’re able to come here and elevate their awareness in the community,” said Odahowski, who credits project partners SchenkelShultz Architecture, Ted Maines Interiors, and Jack Jennings & Sons general contractors for realizing a vision that was years in the making.

“We wanted it to be beautiful and inspiring,” he said. “It’s a reminder that there are opportunities to be outrageously successful, but there are also opportunities to be outrageously generous.”

The atrium offers reconfigurable furniture for a variety of uses.
The front entrance opens to a courtyard setting with green spaces on either side.
According to the staff, several high school and college graduation photos were taken in the garden area at the front of the building.
Wooden slats on the facade are an architectural focal point that is also used inside.
The same wood is used on the entrance to the staircase, to the left of the atrium.
Instead of awards or artwork, the staircase is decorated with LED lighting that can change color in honor of holidays, social causes, and special events.
To the right of the atrium, a 700-square-foot gallery is designed with a retractable glass wall.
A second-floor view of “The Balcony” with The Archibald Innovative Room at the opposite end.
The Archibald Innovative Room can hold up to 25 people and will host in-person classes of the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership, and a retreat for the Rollins College Bonner Leaders Program.
A third-floor break area offers a fully equipped kitchen.
Beyond the kitchen is an outdoor meeting/dining area.
A third-floor wall design features another wooden slat reference with a unique addition.
This freeze-dried plant wall offers all the natural beauty without the need for watering.
According to President and CEO David Odahowski, Mid-century furnishings were chosen because the design “withstands the test of time, the way the foundation has.”
Fun fact: A third-floor coffee table was designed by architect David Adjaye, who also designed the Winter Park Library & Events Center. Some similarities are noticeable.
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