Amazon HQ2

Amazon Submits Plans for 350-Foot ‘Helix' at HQ2 in Virginia

Amazon's plans for PenPlace in Arlington County include open spaces accessible for public use, an amphitheater and green area for outdoor concerts, farmers' markets and movies in the park

NBC Universal, Inc.

Amazon has submitted plans for the final piece of its future home in Arlington County.

The newly proposed centerpiece of Amazon HQ2's second and largest footprint in Arlington County looks like the type of building you might find at the end of the yellow brick road. Futuristic and jaw-dropping, the spiraling building of glass and greenery is called "The Helix," and will be the focal point of the new PenPlace development on the corner of 12th Street South and South Eads Street.

Amazon is submitting plans for four new buildings and nearby spaces to the county Tuesday and hopes to have approval by the end of the year. 

In a statement, Amazon says The Helix "will include a hill climb that allows people to traverse the entire height of the building and a variety of spaces for individual and team work or relaxation. Designed to reflect a shape commonly found in nature, The Helix will be open to the public select weekends every month."

If approved, The Helix will be the tallest building at HQ2, standing 350 feet tall. 

Photos: Amazon Submits Plans for New 350-Foot Centerpiece of HQ2 in Arlington County

There are plans for three 22-story buildings with 2.8 million square feet of office space to surround The Helix, which was designed by architecture firm NBBJ. 

"We’ve designed a workspace for our employees that will prioritize areas for collaboration, natural light, and a constant interaction with nature," Amazon said of the office space.

While the visual of the proposed buildings is striking, Amazon stressed that the design is meant to reflect a sense of community, which they say is expressed in the flow and features at ground level.

Arlington looks forward to kicking off a thorough community review process... where neighbors and stakeholders will have the opportunity to review design concepts in further detail and multiple opportunities to provide input

Matt de Ferranti, chair of Arlington County's board of supervisors

PenPlace plans to include open ground level spaces covering more than 2.5 acres, accessible for public use. This includes an amphitheater facing a central green area to accommodate outdoor concerts, farmers' markets and movies in the park. There's also a forest grove area and walking space.

There are plans for retail pavilions and restaurants, a childcare center, a dog run and a food truck area with outdoor seating throughout the buildings.

One thing you won't see at PenPlace: parking garages. 

Amazon is proposing underground parking garages and underground access for shipping trucks, which it hopes will limit traffic in an area many people in Arlington County have said needs to be more pedestrian friendly.

News4's Erika Gonzalez takes a look at the cost of living near Amazon HQ2.

“The receipt of today’s site plan submission is the start of the public review of the next phase of Amazon’s HQ2. Arlington looks forward to kicking off a thorough community review process — as we do with all proposed site plan developments — where neighbors and stakeholders will have the opportunity to review design concepts in further detail and multiple opportunities to provide input," Matt de Ferranti, the chair of Arlington County's board of supervisors, said. "We expect that the process will conclude with the proposal coming before the County’s Planning Commission and County Board by the end of the year.” 

Amazon said their new buildings "are designed to be LEED Platinum, the highest certification for a sustainable development issued by the U.S. Green Building Council. The project also includes an all-electric central heating and cooling system that will run on 100% renewable energy from a solar farm located in  Pittsylvania County in southern Virginia, procured in collaboration with Arlington County. This will align with Amazon’s Climate Pledge to be net-zero carbon by 2040 and advance Arlington and Amazon’s shared commitment to be leaders in the fight against climate change."

Amazon hopes Arlington County will approve the PenPlace development plans late this year. Construction would begin immediately and is projected to finish in 2025.

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