In a nutshell: Amazon’s design proposal for its next major campus consists of three 22-story buildings that surround a unique-looking spiraling glass tower called ‘The Helix.’ In addition to providing office space, this 350-ft (~106 meters) tall structure is meant to connect people with nature and will feature a vertical forest with walkways swirling up to the top. Amazon is also planning green spaces and publicly accessible areas throughout the 2.8 million square ft site and will be giving public tours of The Helix on occasional weekends.
Although work from home has increasingly become the new normal for many people, Amazon employees living in Arlington County might be tempted to commute to PenPlace, the site where the company looks forward to building its second headquarters.
Among the conventional-looking buildings is the standout spiraling glass structure, whose design is probably many things to many people. Amazon notes that the inspiration for it comes from the natural beauty of a double helix shape whose pattern can be observed in things like our DNA, spiral galaxies, pinecones, and seashells.
The Helix is a continuation of Amazon’s nature-inspired Spheres in Seattle that opened back in 2018. Like the three glass domes, this new twisty tower will also be open to weekend visits from the general public and will normally be occupied by some of the 25,000 employees Amazon eventually plans to station at HQ2. It’ll have a 1,500-person meeting center inside and an artist-in-residence program, while the outside will have two walkways surrounded by a vertical forest featuring Virginia’s native plantings swirling their way to the top.
Led by architecture firm NBBJ, Amazon says the campus layout is designed to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists, with an underground road system that will be used by vehicles for docking and deliveries. In addition to The Helix and three other buildings, the site will have 2.5 acres of green space that will be open to the public, alongside retail stores, restaurants, and an amphitheater for communal activities.
Virginia’s HQ2 is a long-term investment for Amazon, which plans to invest $2.5 billion in the project over the next decade. The company initiated the first phase of construction in January last year, where two of the three 22-story buildings are set for completion by 2023.
With development plans for the second phase now submitted to Arlington County for approval, construction of The Helix and other remaining buildings is expected to begin in 2022 and take three years to complete.