Amazon unveils design for the second phase of its Virginia HQ

Amazon has revealed its design for the second phase of its Arlington, Virginia, headquarters that will be designed by architecture firm NBBJ. Image courtesy NBBJ/Amazon
Amazon has revealed its design for the second phase of its Arlington, Virginia, headquarters that will be designed by architecture firm NBBJ.
Image courtesy NBBJ/Amazon

Tech giant Amazon has revealed its proposed design for the second phase of its Arlington, Virginia, headquarters. Designed by architecture firm NBBJ, the plans infuse nature into the urban landscape and create a unique, sustainable environment.

“We hope that the blend of architectural and ecological elements at PenPlace—the name of the site—will inspire those who work here and serve as an inviting place for neighbours to gather, relax, dine, and shop,” Amazon said. “We look forward to working together with the community in the coming months to bring this vision to life.”

Sustainable buildings

Amazon will develop 260,129 m2 (2.8 million sf) of new office space distributed across three 22-story buildings. Designs include a workspace for employees that will prioritize areas for collaboration, natural light, and interaction with nature. The design promotes well-being and physical exercise, agency (the ability for employees to choose when, how, and where to work), and a connection with the local community.

The new buildings are designed to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum. The project also includes an all-electric central heating and cooling system that will run on 100 per cent renewable energy from a solar farm located in Pittsylvania County in southern Virginia, procured in collaboration with Arlington County. This will align with Amazon’s Climate Pledge to be net-zero carbon by 2040 and advance Arlington and Amazon’s shared commitment to be leaders in the fight against climate change.

The Helix

Amazon’s Seattle headquarters include the Spheres, a place where employees can work or unwind while immersed in nature. The Spheres were inspired by concepts of biophilia and a similarly engaging and rejuvenating concept is the basis for the Arlington headquarters: a double helix.

The natural beauty of a double helix can be seen throughout the world, from the geometry of our own DNA to the elemental form of galaxies, weather patterns, pinecones, and seashells, Amazon said. The Helix at the Arlington headquarters will offer a variety of alternative work environments for employees amidst lush gardens and trees native to the region. A true double helix in shape and structure, this unique building will feature two walkable paths of landscaped terrain that will spiral up the outside of the building. Since innovative technology often derives from the intersection of art and science, Amazon planned an artist-in-residence program to be hosted within the Helix. Local artists, in collaboration with employees, will be inspired by the nature within the building as they create their pieces.

Gathering on the green

A variety of inviting open spaces totaling more than 1 ha (2.5 acre) will be accessible for public use. An amphitheatre facing a spacious central green will be able to accommodate outdoor concerts, farmers’ markets, and movies in the park. A forest grove will offer more shaded areas for relaxation, a quiet place to talk, or to enjoy the natural setting.

Retail pavilions and restaurants will be located throughout the site. The plans also include room for a childcare centre, a dog run, and a food truck area with plentiful outdoor seating. Amazon we will also create a dedicated 1858-m2 (20,000-sf) community space that can support educational initiatives and be flexible enough to accommodate everything from large community meetings to small classes and individual use.

Pedestrian-focused and bicycle friendly

The publicly accessible spaces throughout the site will prioritize walkways, landscaping, and retail over motor vehicles. Amazon plans to make a significant investment to move all vehicle access underground to foster a safe and welcoming pedestrian environment. Visitors and neighbours will not see service vehicles crossing the new site as all deliveries and docking activity will happen underground, freeing up more space for the community. Additionally, there will be protected bike lanes in the streets and each office building will have dedicated street-level bike entrances and facilities to encourage safe and convenient bicycle commuting to our Arlington headquarters.

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