Headquarters helix: Amazon reveals eye-catching office tower

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Amazon revealed plans Tuesday for the next phase of its headquarters redevelopment in Virginia, featuring a signature 350-foot (107-meter) helix-shaped office tower that can be climbed from the outside like a mountain hike.

The head-turning helix building is the centerpiece of the proposal that also features multiple 22-story office buildings in addition to those already under construction as the company looks to accommodate 25,000 new workers over the coming years in the Arlington County neighborhoods across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital.

The Seattle-based company said in a blog post that the building is designed to help people connect to nature.

“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 company said. “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.”

Sketches show trees and green space spiraling along the exterior of the building, which in addition to a helix also resembles a Christmas tree or a soft-serve ice cream cone. Less flattering comments on social media likened it to a poop emoji.

The company said it will open the exterior mountain climb to the public on weekend tours.

The building itself is deemed “alternative work space” by the company in contrast to the more traditional office space in the three 22-story buildings that will surround the helix, which will be slightly taller than the other three buildings.

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.

In a statement Matt de Ferranti, chairman of the Arlington County Board, called the helix design “interesting” and said county residents would have a chance to weigh in on the design before it’s approved.

“Neighbors and all stakeholders will have the opportunity to review the design concept in further detail and multiple opportunities to comment. We expect that the plans will come before the County’s Planning Commission and County Board by the end of the year for final consideration,” he said.

The company hopes to begin work next year with a projected completion date of 2025.

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