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Amazon unveils helix at heart of HQ2 campus

Global architecture, planning and design firm, NBBJ has released renderings for the second phase of Amazon’s new $2.5 billion HQ2 in Arlington, VA.

Despite many of its employees still working from home, Amazon said it views its Arlington headquarters as a long-term investment and remains committed to creating 25,000 jobs over the next decade.

“When the public health situation improves and as regulations allow, we will continue to see value in bringing our employees together in a physical space to cross-pollinate ideas and foster collaboration. With our hiring and construction on pace, we’re ready for the next chapter,” said the company on its blog.

NBBJ has designed 2.8 million square feet of new office space distributed across three 22-story buildings in a campus dubbed Pen Place. The design prioritizes areas for collaboration, natural light, and a constant interaction with nature

The design also promotes well-being and physical exercise, agency (the ability for employees to choose when, how, and where to work), and a strong connection with the local community.

“We believe that campuses should be neighborhoods that bring people together and not isolated, employee-only spaces that ignore their surroundings,” said Amazon.

The new buildings are designed to be LEED Platinum and the project also includes an all-electric central heating and cooling system that will run on 100 percent renewable energy from a solar farm located in Pittsylvania County in southern Virginia, procured in collaboration with Arlington County.

The centerpiece of the development is The Helix, a double helix with two walkable paths of landscaped terrain that will spiral up the outside of the building and feature plantings common to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Like the famous Spheres at its Seattle headquarters property, The Helix will be open for public tours of several weekends a month.

The campus will also include 2.5 acres accessible for public use,  including an amphitheater for outdoor concerts, farmers’ markets, and movies in the park. A forest grove will offer shaded areas and retail pavilions and restaurants will be located throughout the site.

The plans also include room for a childcare center, a dog run, and a food truck area with outdoor seating as well as a dedicated 20,000 s/f community space that can support educational initiatives and be flexible enough to accommodate everything from large community meetings to small classes and individual use.

The publicly accessible spaces throughout the site will prioritize walkways, landscaping, and retail over motor vehicles. Amazon said it plans to make a significant investment to move all vehicle access underground to foster a pedestrian environment for everyone. Deliveries and docking activity will happen underground and there will be protected bike lanes in the streets and each office building will have dedicated street-level bike entrances and facilities.

Despite the pandemic, work on the Phase One Metropolitan Park development continues on-schedule for a 2023 opening. It includes two towers totaling 2.1 million square feet as well as a host of improvements to the park, an underground parking garage, 600 bicycle parking spaces, a daycare center and street level retail.

Amazon hopes to begin construction on Pen place next year and open in 2025, by which time the tech giant said it expects to have created 25,000 new jobs, jobs that originally had been earmarked for New York when the company announced it would build HQ2 there in 2018.

Just weeks after making the announcement, Amazon pulled out of the deal after facing backlash from politicians and activists.

All renderings courtesy of NBBJ

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