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A towering helix will mark the spot at Amazon’s corporate headquarters in Virginia

The tech giant has invested $2.5 billion in a project that will encompass five office buildings for 25,000 employees.

February 03, 2021 |
The Helix, one of three buildings planned for Amazon's Virginia HQs.

Amazon's proposed design for the second phase of its corporate headquarters in Arlington, Va., is dominated by a corkscrew-shaped building, called The Helix, one of three office towers planned to open in 2025. Renderings: NBBJ

The second phase of Amazon’s headquarters complex in Arlington, Va., will be a 2.8-million-sf campus with three 22-story buildings that target LEED Platinum certification.

The Phase 2 site, called PenPlace, will be anchored by The Helix, a 370,000-sf spiral shaped building that, according to Amazon, will feature indoor garden spaces, an Artist in Residence program, a 1,500-person meeting center, and an outdoor hill climb open to the public on select weekends every month. (SCAPE is PenPlace’s landscape architect.)

Amazon sent its latest designs to the Arlington County Board on Tuesday. If the plans are approved, ground breaking for PenPlace could be early next year, with delivery scheduled for 2025.

Amazon—which in 2019 faced community opposition to its plans to build a headquarters complex in the New York City borough of Queens—is proactively presenting itself to Arlington residents as a friend of the community and a corporate citizen. The tech giant has donated more than $19 million to local nonprofits, and recently announced a $2 billion Housing Equity Fund whose starting investment will be to create more than 1,300 affordable homes in Arlington’s Crystal City neighborhood, where PenPlace would be built.

A dog park will be one of the community amenities that Amazon's headquarters will offer.

 

The proposed design for PenPlace includes:

•2.5-plus acres of public open space and connected walkways, a dog run, a 250-seat amphitheater, woodlands, and art installations;

•Over 950 onsite bike spaces, including 180 for visitors. There will be one-quarter mile of new protected bike lanes;

•100,000 sf for retail pavilions, walkways, and space for a dozen local dealers and eateries;

•A child-care center;

•A plaza that supports farmers markets and food vendors; and

•A 20,000-sf community space that supports education, science, and technology, and is flexible enough to accommodate small and large meetings and classes.

PenPlace’s sustainable features include an onsite water reclamation system for reducing cooling, irrigation, and flushing demand by 50%. Site-wide landscape will integrate and clean 100% of the complex’s rainfall runoff.

The project will include an all-electric central heating and cooling system that runs on 100% renewable energy from a solar farm in southern Virginia. (Amazon has pledged to be net-carbon-neutral as a company by 2040.)

PenPlace will include 100,000 sf for local retail tenants and a pavilion.

 

GEOMETRY IN ACTION

Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle is distinguished by The Spheres, ball-shaped workplaces that are also home to over 30,000 plants from 30-plus countries.  Amazon is looking to achieve a similar connection with nature for its Arlington workers via The Helix, which will offer a variety of alternative work environments. (Whiting-Turner Construction is PenPlace’s contractor.)

The Helix will have two walkable paths of landscaped terrain that spiral the outside of the buildings and feature plants familiar to hikers of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

As at The Spheres, Amazon plans to offer public tours of The Helix several weekends a month.

A MULTI-BILLION INVESTMENT

Once completed, Amazon's Arlington headquarters will distribute 850,000 sf of office space over five buildings.

 

PenPlace would be north of where Amazon is building Metropolitan Park, a 2.1-milllion-sf mixed-use project. The first phase includes two 22-story towers, as well as some renovated office space.

Metropolitan Park—designed by ZGF Architects, with Clark Construction as its builder and James Corner Field Operations as its landscape designer—is scheduled to start opening in 2023, John Schoettler, Amazon’s Vice President of Global Real Estate Facilities, told WUSA9. Amazon states that Metropolitan Park will have 500 bike spaces, over 2.5 acres of new and renovated park space, 69,000 sf of ground-floor retail and a 700-person meeting center available to the public.

Amazon’s initial investment in its headquarters plans has been $2.5 billion. All told, Amazon intends to have 850,000 sf of office space for 25,000 employees in Arlington, Va., by mid-decade.

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