A New Look For Amazon’s New HQ

Image Credit: Getty Images, Sundry Photography.

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At this point you’ve likely heard Jeff Bezos is stepping down as the CEO of Amazon. It was a good run, and you can read about what the move means here.

We are going to cover a different Amazon development today.

Tuesday the company unveiled eco-friendly designs for Phase 2 of its Arlington, Virginia headquarters. The campus will be awash in a sea of greenery and center on a corkscrew-shaped building called the Helix, inspired by “the natural beauty of a double helix.”

Amazon Arlington

In its quest for an east coast home, Amazon has been a bit indecisive to say the least.

A year of location scouting (aka hundreds of cities competing to charm the retail giant) wrapped up in 2018 with Arlington and Queens, N.Y. as frontrunners. Amazon later nixed its Queens dreams, but finally broke ground on Phase 1 of its Arlington campus – a pair of 22-story towers – in November.

Now with blueprints in hand from architecture firm NBBJ, Amazon has announced plans for Phase 2 – a bundle of office and retail buildings that can accommodate more than 13,000 employees:

  • The focal point will be the Helix, a 350-ft tower adorned with two spiraling outdoor walkways (don’t look down) and a “variety of alternative work environments.” Virginian trees and plants will grow in and outside the building.
  • Accompanying the Helix will be three 22-story office buildings and smaller stores and restaurants, plus an outdoor amphitheater, dog run, and parking for nearly 1000 bicycles.

The campus will be surrounded by Virginia’s woodlands and Amazon is planning energy-efficient buildings powered entirely by an in-state solar farm. If everything goes according to schedule, Amazon will complete the first of its Phase 2 buildings in 2025.

Office Space Isn’t Dead

Despite the work-from-home status quo of the pandemic, some of the biggest names in tech are still expanding their office footprints:

  • In August Facebook agreed to lease all 730,000 square feet of office space in Midtown Manhattan’s mammoth James A. Farley building. Since 2019, Zuckerberg and Co. have acquired more than 2.2 million square feet of space on NYC’s West Side.
  • Google’s most recent 10K tallied nearly $40 billion in land and buildings on the company’s balance sheet. Despite a remote work mandate through at least July, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is looking at a “hybrid” model of both office and remote work into the future.

The Takeaway:

V.P. of global real estate and facilities, John Schoettler said Amazon’s new offices will look very different – more collaborative and less office-y. “Think of it more like a coffee shop,” he said. After over a year in sweatpants, that’s one way to entice employees back to the office.