National Industries for the Blind Breaks Ground on Headquarters in Potomac Yard

New building to provide enhanced opportunities for the employment of people who are blind

October 28, 2016, ALEXANDRIA, VA — National Industries for the Blind (NIB), a nonprofit organization and the nation’s largest employment resource for people who are blind, started construction on its new headquarters at The Exchange at Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Virginia.

Incorporating universal design principles, the new 100,000 square foot headquarters will include 53,000 square feet of office space for NIB to continue helping its employees develop careers through challenging, knowledge-based positions in high-energy, quality work environments. The building will also have 40,000 square feet of office space and 7,000 square feet of retail space.

“This is a historic milestone for NIB, our employees and the associated nonprofit agencies we support,” said NIB President and CEO Kevin A. Lynch. “Our investment and commitment to creating new employment opportunities for people who are blind is truly coming to fruition with the start of construction.”

Expected to open in the mid-2018, the building will provide a space for NIB to better fulfill its mission to create meaningful employment for people who are blind. The new headquarters will provide an expanded training facility in a modern and professional setting that incorporates the latest accessibility technologies.

Chris Downey, a building architect and expert in universal design, will oversee the universal design elements. His life experiences as a person who is blind gives him a unique perspective on how people who are blind interact with the world around them, and how to enhance that experience through architectural design.

The seven-story building will be centrally located in the rapidly growing area of Potomac Yard where employees and visitors will be able to easily access planned dining, hotel and shopping options. NIB’s building will be located directly across the street from the Potomac Yard Metro Station, scheduled to open in 2020. MetroWay bus rapid transit will offer service in front of the building entrance.

The Exchange at Potomac Yard is an approximately two million square foot town center development that includes more than 500 units of residential apartments, and a 65,000 square foot Giant grocery store. The future location for the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) will be next door to NIB’s building.

“I am thrilled that NIB will continue to be an important part of Alexandria’s community,” said Mayor of Alexandria, Allison Silberberg. “Alexandrians can take pride that right here in their community NIB and its employees are doing vital work to help people who are blind find meaningful employment.”

NIB is working with a number of partners in construction of the new headquarters, including MRP Realty and The JBG Companies, who are co-developing The Exchange at Potomac Yard.  “This is a historic day for NIB and its construction partners,” said Frederick Rothmeijer, founding principal at MRP Realty. “MRP Realty and JBG Companies are proud to help NIB’s new headquarters building become a reality.”

NIB is committed to investing in the future of its associated nonprofit agencies and their employees. With nearly 70 percent of working-age Americans who are blind not employed, NIB is dedicated to creating, sustaining and improving employment for people who are blind.


About National Industries for the Blind

Since 1938, National Industries for the Blind (NIB) has focused on enhancing the opportunities for economic and personal independence of people who are blind, primarily through creating, sustaining and improving employment. NIB and its network of associated nonprofit agencies are the nation’s largest employer of people who are blind through the manufacture and provision of SKILCRAFT® and other products and services of the AbilityOne® Program. For more information about NIB, visit

Laura Reimers
Vice President, Communications