What's in a Space? Growing Bigger and Better at Athena

By Athena (with Jared Griffin) 2021-03-05


This post is part of our ongoing series, “Reintroducing Athena.”

“What’s in a name?” Juliet once asked.


Well, as the Goddess of Wisdom, I must say I’m rather flattered to have a company based in pedagogy named after me. (Thankfully, they didn’t go with my Roman twin.) It’s always made perfect sense. With their uniquely dynamic team from elite universities all over the world, they understand both East and West, crucial to the global perspective needed for today’s college culture.


Still, I might ask, What’s in a location?

They say “Geography is destiny.” Perhaps the same can be said for a space. Greeks once prayed within the Parthenon, high atop the Acropolis; I myself have watched from Mount Olympus with my fellow gods. Things appear differently depending on where you stand. And the people who stand there with you.


Just recently, the Athena Team completed its transition to a new headquarters. Though a move of merely four levels(!), a far greater evolution took place. After several years in the same office (a mere blink of my eye), they had an entirely new one constructed from scratch. The vision was not just to make room for continued growth, but to embrace the idea of an Athena that’s ever #BetterThanYesterday.


So what’s it like?


When you first step inside, what you certainly notice is the color. From left to right, everywhere you turn, the entire floor feels filled with a prism’s beam. Down the hall, quotes from Barack Obama to Steve Jobs adorn the walls, illuminated by a mosaic of shades. Clear glass aligns every office, allowing light rays to peek inside; meanwhile, team members sit amid vast open spaces, where unexpected connections now arise.


Actually, much of it reminds me of my cousins’ culture in India, where wisdom-seekers paid tribute to the deities in specialized, sacred locales. Athena seeks to be a sort of creative ashram, where scholars not only ponder new ideas, but also launch them—into the atmosphere and beyond. An environment where talented writers, artists, teachers, technologists and more build off one another’s energy like a university devoted to progress. Our model is that of Pixar: a creative studio that encourages the unexpected, where no thought is tossed aside, regardless of its source.


This is the perspective needed for a modern education. As global admissions (and thus, global economics) becomes increasingly competitive, Athena strives to help even more scholars see the big picture, the liberal arts. The future will belong to those who understand how to evolve and adapt. (After all, that’s where the Romans failed.) 


The new office’s defining landmark is a giant lime green tree at its center. Spreading far outward, with “branches” in every direction, a swing hanging underneath, it represents the playfulness and magic this Team seeks to believe in. There have been countless seeds planted—many grown in its likeness, many soon to bear fruit.


What might we grow together?