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Amazon Reveals Evocative ‘Helix’ Tower, 3 New Office Buildings As Next Phase Of HQ2

A rendering of Amazon's plans for the PenPlace portion of HQ2.

Amazon is moving forward with plans for three more office towers at its second headquarters, just one year after it began construction on the first two buildings.

The e-commerce giant revealed plans Tuesday for the second phase of HQ2 in the newly named National Landing in Northern Virginia. The plans for the development site call for three 22-story office buildings around a striking, greenery-filled centerpiece tower.

The plans are highlighted by The Helix, a 370K SF building with landscaped walking paths spiraling up around the outside of the double helix-shaped tower. Amazon compared the building to The Spheres, the glass, nature-filled conservatories at its Seattle headquarters. 

Amazon said it plans to offer public tours of The Helix on weekends, and it is planning an artist-in-residence program to be hosted in the building. The Helix is also planned to include a 1,500-person underground meeting center. 

Amazon said it plans to submit the plans to Arlington County Tuesday, and it aims to deliver the project in 2025.

A rendering of the Northern Virginia skyline with the planned Amazon HQ2 buildings.

The three office buildings total 2.8M SF. Amazon said they are designed to be LEED Platinum and will prioritize collaboration, natural light and interaction with nature. The buildings are planned to have an all-electric heating and cooling system running on 100% renewable energy from a solar farm in southern Virginia, Amazon said.

The project is also slated to include 2.5 acres of public open space, including a 250-seat amphitheater next to a large, central green and a shaded forest grove. It is also planned to include 100K SF of retail and restaurants, a child care center, 20K SF of community space, a food truck area and a dog run. 

Amazon said the public space design will prioritize the pedestrian experience over cars, and it will move vehicle access underground. It is also planned to have protected bike lanes and street-level bike entrances to the buildings. 

"We believe that campuses should be neighborhoods that bring people together and not isolated, employee-only spaces that ignore our surroundings," Amazon Vice President of Global Real Estate John Schoettler wrote in a blog post.

A rendering of the public space planned in the PenPlace portion of Amazon HQ2.

NBBJ is serving as the project's architect, SCAPE is its landscape designer and Whiting-Turner is its contractor. JBG Smith, the dominant landlord in the National Landing area, reached agreements to sell the Metropolitan Park and PenPlace properties to Amazon for a combined $294M. It is serving as a development partner in the HQ2 buildings.

Amazon broke ground in January 2020 on the first phase of new development at HQ2, featuring two 22-story office towers on the Metropolitan Park site. The first phase, designed by ZGF Architects, is slated to deliver in 2023.

The tech giant has also leased 850K SF of offices across five buildings, and it said it had more than 1,600 employees at HQ2 as of December. Amazon says it is continuing to hire, with another 600 jobs open at HQ2. 

Amazon last month announced it is contributing $382M, including a below-market loan and grants, to create and preserve 1,300 affordable housing units at the nearby Crystal House property, in partnership with the Washington Housing Conservancy. 

"We applaud our partners at Amazon for the iconic design of The Helix with its indoor/outdoor experience and biophilic approach which reimagines the workplace and will stand as a beacon of innovation in our district," National Landing Business Improvement District President Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said in a statement. "We appreciate the deep commitment to sustainability and the engaging, people-centered design of a lush, open, and accessible urban campus."