com Inc.’s plans for its new northern Virginia headquarters feature an outdoor theme, the latest sign that big tech companies are getting more creative with office space rather than abandoning it.
Phase two of the company’s development in Arlington, Va., calls for three 22-story office buildings and smaller retail buildings surrounded by woodlands, an outdoor amphitheater, a dog run and parking for around 950 bicycles.
The centerpiece will be the site’s fourth and tallest tower, a 350-foot structure dubbed the Helix because it will feature two spiraling outdoor walkways with trees and plants from Virginia that twist to the building’s top.
Amazon, which is unveiling the designs on Tuesday, said the cluster of new office and retail buildings will accommodate around 13,000 employees, with room for more. The project is part of Amazon’s more than $2.5 billion, 25,000-employee office campus, which the Seattle-based company calls its second headquarters.
While numerous tech firms have pledged to allow employees to work from home even after the coronavirus pandemic is contained, Amazon,
Google and others have continued to expand their urban office footprints. By investing heavily in big city real estate, they are betting that office space will be an important part of their corporate culture after the pandemic is over.
“We have to think about this as a long-term investment,” said
Amazon’s vice president of global real estate and facilities. “These buildings will begin to deliver in 2025. And so we believe that the world will be a much improved place than it is currently.”
Still, the growing popularity of remote work has influenced the buildings’ plans, Mr. Schoettler said. The company expects some employees will go to the office only occasionally. The designs call for more collaborative spaces where these people can meet peers. They won’t look much like traditional offices.
“Think of it more like a coffee shop,” he said. One with mobile whiteboards.
The plans for the second phase of Amazon’s buildings are set to go through a public review process, and the company hopes to break ground early next year. A pair of office buildings for around 12,500 employees are already under construction down the street from the planned second-phase development. The first buildings of the second phase are set to be completed in 2025.
Amazon’s new campus is the latest in a growing line of outdoorsy office projects, as companies try harder to offer a pleasant work environment and appeal to eco-conscious employees.
The Helix “will be an opportunity for people to literally go on a hike in the city,” said
a principal at architecture firm NBBJ, which is designing the development across the river from Washington, D.C.
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Plans for inside of the building also call for plenty of greenery, along with meeting space, offices and studios for artist residency programs. “You feel like you’re in a lush garden in the middle of winter in D.C.,” Mr. Alberda said of the interior design.
NBBJ previously designed an outdoor-focused headquarters for Recreational Equipment Inc. in Seattle, which was later sold to Facebook.
Amazon selected Arlington as the site of its second headquarters, along with Queens, N.Y., in 2018 following a lengthy and well-publicized search. The company later backed out of its planned New York campus, but went ahead with its Virginia plans.
Aside from including lots of plants, Amazon said it wants to design the buildings in an energy-efficient way and to get all their electricity from a solar farm in Virginia. Much of the campus’s ground-level green space will be open to the public around the clock, Mr. Schoettler said.
Write to Konrad Putzier at [email protected]
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