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Amazon reveals “nature-infused” HQ2 in Arlington

Designed by architecture firm NBBJ, PenPlace will unite 2.8 million square feet of offices, public gathering areas and street-front retail that seek to create a healthier workforce and community. 

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The Helix, the centrepiece of Amazon's HQ2 building in Arlington. Image: NBBJ.jpg
The Helix, the centrepiece of Amazon's HQ2 building in Arlington. Image: NBBJ.jpg

Amazon has submitted its proposed development plans for the second phase of new construction for its Arlington, Virginia, headquarters.

 

The site, PenPlace, features three 22-storey buildings and unites 2.8 million square feet of offices, public gathering areas and street-front retail that seek to create a healthier workforce and community. It will feature pedestrian-oriented walkways to its centerpiece building, The Helix.

 

The online retailer chose the site just outside Washington DC in late 2018.

 

Nature and urban landscape

 

In a blog post, Amazon said it is “doubling down” on the importance of fostering an open and inviting community by creating a new destination for local residents. Designed by architecture firm NBBJ, its plans also infuse nature into the urban landscape and create a sustainable environment where employees can work and invent for its customers.

 

It continued: “We’ve designed a workspace for our employees that will prioritise areas for collaboration, natural light, and a constant interaction with nature. The design promotes wellbeing 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 neighbourhoods that bring people together and not isolated, employee-only spaces that ignore their surroundings.”

 

Buildings are designed to be LEED Platinum sustainable standard issued by the US Green Building Council. 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.

“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”

The Helix is similar in concept as Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, The Spheres, which is inspired by biophilia, “the innate human desire to connect with nature”.

The design promotes a strong connection with the local community. Image: NBBJ
The design promotes a strong connection with the local community. Image: NBBJ

“The natural beauty of a double helix can be seen throughout our world, from the geometry of our own DNA to the elemental form of galaxies, weather patterns, pinecones, and seashells,” said Amazon.

 

“The Helix at our Arlington headquarters will offer a variety of alternative work environments for Amazon employees amidst lush gardens and flourishing 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, featuring plantings you may find on a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

 

“And because innovative technology often derives from the intersection of art and science, we’ve planned an artist-in-residence programme to be hosted within The Helix. Local artists, in collaboration with our employees, will be inspired by the nature within the building as they create their pieces.”

 

Amazon plans to offer public tours of The Helix several weekends a month.

 

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