Exclusive Tour: Inside Boeing's Arlington Headquarters
It’s been about two years since Boeing took over a vacant lot at the edge of Crystal City to house over 500 employees. The Long Bridge team is focused on government operations, international business and defense and space. We took an exclusive tour with government operations SVP Tim Keating last week.
The Long Bridge facility is 275k SF, with room to add another 125k SF off one of the wings. (No decision on when/if that will happen.) Our tour took us through Boeing’s Collaboration Center, its on-site gym and some of the executive offices—all while employees sat through a training session in a conference center that seats over 500. The Chicago-based company has 165,000 employees worldwide and $91B in revenue.
Tim, who’s been with Boeing since May 2008, says monuments like this one in the lobby are going in several of the company’s largest offices to celebrate the company’s 100th birthday this summer. The lobby also includes large pillars that look like airplane wings and two-story windows that look out over the National Airport flight path.
Tim says instead of buying new art, the company went into its archives and pulled out historic sketches of Boeing’s first product designs. The office is also full of physical models of Boeing airplanes.
The building includes a large gym, with a full-time trainer with a master’s degree and 15 years of physical therapy experience. “People who are active and healthy don’t miss work,” says Tim. A cafeteria on the first floor offers healthy food options.
Tim says one of the unique features about Boeing’s Long Bridge facility is the Collaboration Center, run by customer and market engagement manager Jeff Bals. He describes it as an interactive experience where customers can see demos of the products and meet with engineers. Tim says it could have easily been turned into a museum of Boeing’s history but the company decided to go with a place to see current and future products.
The space also includes a lounge area with this 3D TV where customers and policymakers are invited to watch launch flights in Florida. The screen also allows for 3D tours inside airplane cabins. The feature allows full 3D viewing of product videos, including the first flight of the innovative Boeing 787. The company has one of the largest factories in the world under a roof in Everett, WA, where most of the company’s twin-aisle planes are manufactured.
Our next stop was the executive suite, which includes this reception area for events outside of a large boardroom. One view is of the Pentagon, a significant Boeing customer. Tim says employees are encouraged to visit customers at the Pentagon and they often do. He also says he can get to Capitol Hill faster (driving his own car, not on a secret jet) than many of his K Street-based friends.
The floors have a traditional set-up with closed offices around the perimeter and cubicles on the inside. One entire wing is secure rooms and off-limits to visitors. “We’re not Google,” says Tim. “While we have embraced many of the latest office trends sweeping the nation, we are still a defense contractor and the defense world is bucketed and secure.” Each employee has an adjustable desk for standing or sitting. Tim says his bad back has forced him to use a standing desk most of his career.
Tim has overseen the design of at least five other offices, so all the furniture was his choice, including this retro lounge area. It includes Eric Sloan artwork commissioned by Howard Hughes and hung in his office. Boeing acquired Hughes Electronics, giving the firm access to the paintings.
Tim says Boeing’s previous Arlington building was shaped like a wedding cake with several tiers. The layout made it a challenge for people to see each other. This more expansive layout has allowed people to interact in the offices, as well as in the cafeteria and gym. It’s also important to have a large DC-area presence as a way to tell the company’s story to customers and members of Congress.
One of the crown jewels of most DC-area office buildings is the rooftop patio. This one is big enough for gatherings of about 120 people. It’s also an opportunity to see and hear Boeing’s products taking off and landing at National Airport. Tim says the company is especially proud of the building’s LEED Gold status.
We had to ask Tim, since he’s a lobbyist, which presidential candidate is the most friendly to Boeing’s work. And in true Washington fashion, Tim answered, “We’re willing to work with whomever the American people decide.”