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The Design That Got Everyone's Attention in 2021

  • December 20th 2021

by Nena Perry-Brown

While the DC area continues to transition to a new pandemic-era status quo, the time has come once again for UrbanTurf to reflect on the state of real estate over the past year.

This week, we refresh our collective memory with a 2021 Year-in-Review series.


Proposed HQ2 design. Click to enlarge.

The most anticipated and highly-debated architectural design that debuted in the region in 2021 was that of Amazon's new Northern Virginia headquarters. 

The design, from architecture firm NBBJ, features a corkscrew-shaped, 370,000 square-foot office amenity building ("The Helix") that tops off at 355 feet, a clear departure from the typical style of building commonly constructed in the DC area.

Toward the beginning of the public review process, Pentagon City residents described the design of the Helix using adjectives such as "creative", "wonderful", "interesting", and "powerful".

Pavilion 3, looking southwest. Click to enlarge.

Many stakeholders, residents, and planners in Arlington took exception to how boring the other three towers at the new headquarters were by comparison, compelling a recent tweak to add architectural emphasis by way of mounted solar arrays atop those buildings. In the meantime, however, many architectural critics turned their eye toward the proposal's design and offered varying opinions on its implications and impositions. 

Local opinion has moved on to scrutinizing the amount, configuration, and accessibility of the two acres of open space throughout the site and the landscaping adorning the buildings, as designed by landscape architect SCAPE Studio. Details about building materials have also surfaced, highlighting how each building is meant to evoke the reflection of light on water using bird-safe glass and metal screening and panels in various hues.

As the design review process continues into 2022, we look forward to seeing how the design evolves, but with at least one key approval already in the bag, it seems reasonable to expect to see the Helix adorning the skyline five years from now.

See other articles related to: year in review 2021

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the-design-that-got-everyones-attention-in-2021/19063.

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