Amazon HQ2 on Track for 2023 Completion
American multinational technology company Amazon recently invited reporters and local officials to the construction site of its HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia.
Almost three years to the day since the announcement was made that Amazon would be headquartering there, the company reports that the campus’ first phase at the National Landing is on track for completion in 2023 despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
During the construction tour event, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was reported by the Washingtonian to credit Amazon with revitalizing the neighborhood formerly known as Crystal City and playing a major role in the record $77 billion in capital investment over the last four years.
“We’re in better shape now than we’ve been in a long time, certainly in my lifetime,” Northam said during an interview. “I ran my campaign out of Crystal City. When you see it now, compared to back four years ago when I ran, it’s just a transformation.”
Currently, the project has nearly 1,000 workers onsite, who’ve been working on installing the facades of the office towers and building the park. Once phase one is completed, National Landing will be home to two, 22-story buildings comprised of more than 2.1 million square feet, dubbed “Met Park,” in addition to a two-acre public park. The development reportedly costs $2.5 billion.
Take a look at more behind the scene photos from our HQ2 Met Park hard hat tour with Amazon. https://t.co/gTYtVkNdQt— JBG SMITH (@jbgsmith) November 22, 2021
The new spaces will feature 50,000 square feet of restaurants and retail, two of which have already been confirmed: petcare company District Dogs and coffee and cocktail café RAKO Coffee. The Met Park will also have a playground, farmers market, dog park and other public amenities.
According to reports, employees of Amazon will have access to “dog terraces” located on the upper levels of the pair of buildings.
Amazon has committed to bringing 25,000 jobs to its new HQ2. At present, more than 3,500 Amazon employees are working in or assigned to older, existing buildings there. Earlier this month, the company reported that it was looking to fill 2,500 open positions.
In terms of energy-savings and eco-friendly materials, the company also reports that HQ2 will house some of the most “green” buildings in the world. Electric power will come from a new solar farm in Pittsylvania County and the buildings are designed to exceed Paris Climate Agreement goals.
“Timber is a remarkable material in that it’s a natural carbon sink. It uses and stores more carbon in it than it expels so by building with timber we’re able to take advantage of that,” Brian Earle with ZGF Architects told Fox News.
Officials report that phase two, which includes the iconic “Helix” isn’t expected to be completed until sometime in 2026. The entire National Landing is expected to be transformed into an 18-hour, mixed-use neighborhood once both phases have reached completion.
At the beginning of the year, in February, Amazon unveiled the proposed design plans for the second phase of its second headquarters. The campus, called “PenPlace” is aiming for LEED Platinum status.
The crown jewel of the project, though, is “The Helix,” which is modeled after the same concept of biophilia that is seen at the Seattle headquarters’ Spheres.
“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. 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,” Amazon said at the time.
“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 program 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.”
The company plans to open the building to public tours and also plans on 2.5 acres of public-use space that will include both an amphitheater and forest grove. Retail pavilions and restaurants will also be located throughout the site with a 20,000-square-foot community space.
On Nov. 13, 2018, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Amazon would be investing approximately $2.5 billion into what would be its new headquarters. Located in National Landing—an area that includes parts of Pentagon City and Crystal City in Arlington County, in addition to Potomac Yard in the City of Alexandria—was selected after a 14-month-long competitive site selection process.
JBG SMITH (Chevy Chase, Maryland) was chosen to be a partner to Amazon in the development and housing of the HQ2 location.
The HQ2 design involves a 2.1 million-square-foot office complex complete with two 22-story office towers and an additional 67,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. The buildings’ rooftops are to be filled with greenery and some are slated to even feature dog parks. In total, Amazon plans to occupy more than 4 million square feet of energy-efficient office space. HQ2 renderings and blueprints also reveal various ground-level green spaces, bicycle and parking spaces, and a 12,500-square-foot daycare center.
Curbed reported that earlier this year, Virginia lawmakers approved hundreds of millions in tax incentives for the project’s development. Northam also announced last month that Virginia signed an agreement with Dominion Energy to purchase 30% of the all energy used by the state government’s buildings from renewable sources. The agreement comes only two months after Arlington committed to reaching carbon neutrality for all public and private buildings by 2050.
“Under the partnership, Dominion Energy will supply the Commonwealth with 420 megawatts of renewable energy,” the utility company wrote in a statement. “When combined with previously announced solar projects, the power produced is enough to meet the equivalent of 45% of the state government’s annual energy use.”
Additional work for the project includes extending the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway 1.1 miles in order to connect the City of Alexandria through Pentagon City in Arlington. The first segment design is slated for completion by the summer of 2020. Designs, pricing and contract documents for a new Potomac Yard Metrorail station are also expected to be finalized by the end of 2019 with completion of the station envisioned for 2022.
In 2019, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University—more commonly known as Virginia Tech—announced a partnership with data-driven real estate investment firm Lionstone Investments for the building of a new $1 billion innovative campus. The Innovation Campus is part of the tech-talent pipeline package created by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and approved by the General Assembly, which was originally intended to lure Amazon HQ2 to the location. Now, the Innovation Campus will neighbor HQ2.
As a part of the $750 million incentives package, the state of Virginia plans to invest millions of dollars in the campus project.
“We’re extremely pleased to have this opportunity, in partnership with Lionstone, to establish the Innovation Campus in the heart of the National Landing technology district,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. The Tech Talent Investment Program is also receiving up to $1.1 billion to more than double the annual number of graduates receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science and related fields.
At the end of 2019, the decision was made to have the facility go beyond its intended LEED Gold certification and strive instead for the LEED Platinum.
During a Site Plan Review Committee meeting on Oct. 14, 2019, Amazon Vice President of Global Real Estate John Schoettler announced that Amazon HQ2 would be striving for a LEED Platinum energy certification.
“We are working to secure renewable energy for the campus which means our Arlington buildings will operate on 100% renewable energy by 2030,” said Schoettler.
For the project to reach LEED Platinum, the U.S. Green Building Council will look at the structure’s sustainability, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, as well as energy and atmosphere. Based on points given from a 0-100, Amazon HQ2 will need at least 80 points to be awarded the Platinum status.
To achieve these goals, Amazon is looking at forgoing natural gas in its kitchens and cafeterias, greener landscaping and upping its percentage of electric vehicle parking spaces and charging stations. The company is also considering building an offsite solar or wind farm to power the facilities with renewable energy.