Amazon reveals Arlington HQ2’s ‘Helix’ centerpiece
Spiral-shaped tower will be distinctive focal point for e-commerce giant's $2.5B East Coast headquarters
Despite lingering questions around when or how remote workers may return to office life following the pandemic, Amazon.com Inc. on Tuesday released fresh plans for the second phase of its $2.5 billion East Coast HQ2 headquarters in Arlington’s National Landing area, where it is gearing up to employ 25,000 people during 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,” John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president of global real estate and facilities, said in a statement. “With our hiring and construction on pace, we’re ready for the next chapter.”
After two years of planning, Amazon released plans for its 2.8-million-square-foot redevelopment of the PenPlace block in Arlington’s Pentagon City area. The Amazon HQ2 complex’s next phase will include three 22-story office buildings with ample open coworking space, designed by Seattle-based architecture firm NBBJ. It will also feature 2.1 acres of green space topped by “The Helix,” a distinctive 370,000-square-foot spiral-shaped tower that will offer “alternative working environments” for Amazon employees. Trees and plants native to Virginia will be used in the project, which also includes plans for 100,000 square feet of retail and outdoor gathering space.
The helix-shaped design is a nod to Amazon’s devotion to the innate human desire to be connected to nature, as reflected in the e-commerce giant’s Seattle headquarters, The Spheres, which features a collection of more than 40,000 plants. The Helix building is expected to be completed by 2025 and Amazon plans to offer weekend tours of the facility, just like it does with its Seattle Spheres building.
The green theme doesn’t stop there. Amazon’s PenPlace buildings will be designed to meet the LEED Platinum standard, the highest certification for sustainable developments. The project’s all-electric central heating and cooling system will run on 100% renewable energy from a Pittsylvania County solar farm. In January 2020, Arlington County and Amazon entered into agreements with Richmond-based Dominion Energy Inc. to purchase power for local government operations and Amazon’s HQ2 East Coast headquarters from the Pittsylvania County solar farm. The solar farm is anticipated to be operational by 2022.
The PenPlace development also sets aside more than 2.5 acres of green space for public use, including an amphitheater to host concerts, farmers’ markets and outdoor movies.
Aside from the new PenPlace development, Amazon has already made a major mark on the National Landing area. In December 2020, Amazon’s HQ2 developer, JBG Smith, announced that it had completed renovations on a 14-story, 273,000-square-foot office space for HQ2. Additionally, Amazon has leased a whopping 857,000 square feet across five buildings from the Bethesda, Maryland-based developer, which is also managing construction of an additional 2.1 million square feet of office space to be split among twin towers. JBG Smith’s Amazon development plans also include a one-acre park and 50,000 square feet of retail space.
“Despite many of our employees working from home at this time, we view our Arlington headquarters as a long-term investment, and we remain committed to creating 25,000 jobs and investing $2.5 billion in Arlington over the next decade,” Schoettler said in a statement.
As of December 2020, Amazon had hired more than 1,600 people for its Arlington location. In early January, Amazon announced it is committing nearly $340 million to affordable housing efforts in Arlington. The commitment is aimed at establishing as many 1,300 affordable homes.