Arlington County grants approval for Amazon’s helix-shaped HQ tower

This artist rendering provided by Amazon shows the next phase of the company’s headquarters redevelopment to be built in Arlington, Va. The Arlington county Board gave approval Saturday, April 23, 2022 to Amazon’s plans to build a unique, helix-shaped tower as the centerpiece of its emerging second headquarters in northern Virginia. (NBBJ/Amazon via AP)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — The Arlington County Board gave unanimous approval Saturday to Amazon’s plans to build a unique, helix-shaped tower as the centerpiece of its emerging second headquarters in northern Virginia.

Amazon announced the plans in February 2021 for the eye-catching, 350-foot tower to anchor the second phase of its redevelopment plans. The new office towers will support a second headquarters for Amazon that is expected to welcome more than 25,000 workers when it’s complete.

The helix is one of several office towers granted approval, but the helix stands out. The spiral design features a walkable ramp wrapping around the building with trees and greenery planted to resemble a mountain hike.

Amazon has said the building is designed to help people connect to nature, and the outdoor mountain climb will be open to the public on weekends.

“I think it’s going to be something that Crystal City and our area and all of Arlington are really going to enjoy and it’s going to be an iconic building and we’re really pleased with that,” said Eric Castle, president of the Crystal City Civic Association speaking at the meeting ahead of the vote.

The building plan includes a mountain nature ramp that is walkable and wraps around the building.

“We heard loud and clear from community members that this sort of nature biophilic experience is desired and that is really emblematic in the forest,” said Kate Orff who is leading the landscape for the project.

A lot of the discussion surrounded making it look more like a public building and park rather than just a private office building. The forest part of it does just that.

“Its meandering walks and small forest rooms will be immersed in planting to create a unique botanical experience,” Orff said.

And it will have bird-safe glass since it is a shiny, 350-foot building.

The plans have gone through the famously thorough review process of Arlington County, including numerous public hearings. Earlier this month, the county planning commission voted 9-0 to support the project.

On Saturday, the County Board voted 5-0 to approve the plans. They also include park space and will accommodate a community high school, along with ground level retail.

Amazon has said it hopes to complete the project in 2025.

Because skyscrapers are banned in the District of Columbia, and the Amazon buildings will be among the tallest in Arlington County, from some vantage points the helix will dominate the region’s skyline like no building other than the Washington Monument.

WTOP’s Valerie Bonk contributed to this article. 

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