Back in the years 2017 to 2018, in what now feels like a completely different time and perhaps different world, the e-commerce/cloud computing/digital streaming juggernaut that is Amazon stirred up communities across North America when they asked for bids on where to build their second corporate headquarters, aka “HQ2.” Following some of the wackiest campaigning and mind-blowing benefit proposals ever, Amazon settled on Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. Years passed as designs for Amazon’s new corporate complex were drawn up, particularly the main structure of HQ2. After some time without news, the building concept has been revealed. It is awe-inspiring, environmentally evocative, and figuratively “smells.”
According to The Verge, Amazon unveiled the first rendered images of their Crystal City HQ2 site, featuring photographic vistas of the neighborhood with CGI of the campus digitally added in. The crowning glory of the images is the central building. Where Amazon’s HQ1 in Seattle has the aesthetically-inspiring Spheres which serve as conservatory with employee common rooms and amenities, for HQ2 the multinational company wants a main structure that stands out. And indeed the images are eye-catching with the spiraling skyscraper with roof levels filled with trees and gardens. Amazon calls this design the Helix.
Information gleaned from Amazon’s official website about the HQ2 Helix would include descriptions regarding what every prominent design element of it represents. The main theme of the building is, obviously, a double helix that evokes the shape of DNA and the forms of galaxies. The spiraling roof deck will feature landscaped terrain, the better to offer an alternative work environment for employees at HQ. Less charitable opinions of the Helix building design online would be that it looks like the emoji for “poop.” Amazon is not letting that criticism faze them however, as they plan to invite local artists for a residency program at the Helix, where they can create artworks for exhibition in site.
Other features of the entire HQ2 campus include the three LEED Platinum buildings that will surround the Helix on two sides. At ground level between the structures will be an open area 2.5 acres big in total, with amphitheater, multipurpose central green, forest grove and building space for retail businesses and restaurants. It will also prioritize ease of travel for pedestrians and bicycle traffic over motor vehicles, with necessary bike entrances and support facilities. It all comes down to the ideal balance of man and nature that Amazon is striving to achieve with HQ2. Phase 1 of construction was only approved in 2019, with construction beginning just this November 2020.
Image: About Amazon official website