Amazon welcomed the first group of employees to its Metropolitan Park offices in Arlington, Virginia on May 22. Metropolitan Park is the first phase in the construction of our second headquarters, and the project includes two office buildings (named Jasper and Merlin), public parks and playgrounds, retail space for 14 locally owned businesses, and amenities for the community like a half mile of protected bike lanes and additional pedestrian walkways.
We caught up with several employees who came to the office for the opening of Metropolitan Park’s Merlin building in May. Here are some of the spaces and features they’re most excited about so far.
1.Fresh coffee and treats to start the day—and keep things going in the afternoon
The first floor of Metropolitan Park’s Merlin building includes a coffee bar that offers specialty drinks and tasty treats for employees heading into work. The café is also open to people from the community who want to stop by for a drink and explore the lobby.
Keegan Bursaw, a community manager for Amazon’s Sell Partner Communities, shared that stopping by the café was his top priority on Day 1 at the new office. “That was the first thing I did when I came in this morning,” said Bursaw. “I stopped by the café and grabbed a drink and a little breakfast, then I enjoyed it on the fourth-floor terrace before starting the work day.”
Mecca Nnacheta, a customer enablement lead for AWS Security, added that he made a few stops to refuel throughout the day. “I grabbed several drinks today,” he laughed. “I had a mocha, then I tried a chai tea drink—I had to scope out all the options, of course.”
2.Cool art installations inspired by Amazon employees and their furry companions
Amazon incorporated art from local creators throughout Metropolitan Park. Some clear favorites among the employees we talked to were the wall of dog photos—accompanied by the name and title of the Amazon employee who owns them—and a wall of butterflies with labels that pay tribute to teams across the company.Photo by Pete KiehartPhoto by Pete KiehartPhoto by Lucas JacksonPhoto by Lucas Jackson
“I really like the butterfly wall that gives each butterfly a scientific name with an Amazon spin,” said Tyler Kusma, a software development engineer at Amazon Web Services. “It took a second to realize the theme, and it made me chuckle when I did.”
Chenelle Williams, a business analyst on the Talent Recruiting Engineering and Development team at Amazon, shared that her favorite piece of art wasn’t necessarily a mural. It was a statement fixture that visitors can enjoy from the lobby, as well as the elevators on the second floor.Photo by Lucas JacksonPhoto by Lucas Jackson
“The pink and white chandelier in the lobby was one of my favorite things in the building,” she said. “It’s huge and has very pretty, unique colors and design.”
3.Design details and tools that make it easier to collaborate with colleagues near and far
An important part of the vision for Metropolitan Park is to offer employees a buzzing workspace where they can collaborate and innovate together. Its design incorporates unique and comfortable spots to brainstorm, along with resources that facilitate the creative process.
“I’ve been loving the soft seating areas by the kitchenettes,” Kusma said. “It’s a comfortable space to collaborate away from your desk. I’ve also noticed an increased number of whiteboards around the office that are super handy when my teammates and I decide to kick off a whiteboarding session.”
“My new favorite quiet workspaces are the kitchenette tables on the second floor, and the phonebooths tucked away on the third floor,” said Bursaw. “They’re in low-traffic areas, so they’ve been good places to hop on a call with team members at other offices.”
4.Tasty food and comfy seating in the cafeteria
Merlin’s second floor offers a cafeteria with a variety of vendors offering different food choices.
“Today was Day 1 at its finest as far as the food goes,” said Nnacheta. “I had a sampling of a lot of different things. My favorite was the shrimp po’ boy.”
“I'm excited to try the different food options in the cafeteria,” Kusma added. “I had the chicken cheesesteak today which was fantastic, and I saw a couple people's meals like wraps and salads that I want to try at some point too.”
While the food was a hit, Kusma also shared that he enjoyed hanging out in the cafeteria with his colleagues, and he looks forward to doing that more often. “I can’t wait to get together with my team for lunch on a regular basis,” he shared. “A few of us were in the dining room together today, and we were all just kind of marveling at the design and how nice it was to hang out in there.”
5.Gaming consoles and pool tables in a designated game room
Employees have access to a game room on the second floor where they can take a break and enjoy console and table games, or just gather together in a cool space. Bursaw said that this room was one of the spots he was most excited to see.
“I made a b-line for the game room after I had my breakfast on the terrace,” he said. “I checked out the Xbox and PS5 first. The coolest thing about the room was the vibe. It felt like something you would find in a hotel, not an office.”
Williams added that she’s excited to swing by the game room to work on her pool skills. “I'm terrible at pool, but I really want to get better,” she said. “There's a huge pool table, so I’m excited to hang out with my coworkers and learn some new tricks.”
6.The perfect spot to watch “Thursday Night Football” or the new movie “AIR”
The design team behind Metropolitan Park incorporated spaces around the buildings called “Centers of Energy” which are spots where employees can gather and connect with one another during the work day. One of the most exciting spaces among the employees we talked to was the stadium area on the second level, which features a large LED screen where employees can watch events together.
“I think we should do some "Thursday Night Football" on that screen,” said Bursaw. “That would be perfect here at HQ2.”
Both Nnacheta and Kusma said they want to watch the Amazon Studios film, "AIR" in the space. “I didn’t catch AIR in theaters, so it would be awesome to see it here,” said Kusma. “I definitely want to see AIR,” Nnacheta added. “I'd like to see anything that we have on Prime Video rolling through the screen.”
7.Space to explore your creative and crafty side with help from local artists
Amazon’s Seattle campus offers a creative studio where employees can take a break and try their hand at some arts and crafts with guidance from local artists. Employees in Arlington will now have that same perk with their very own “Expressions Lab” at Metropolitan Park.
“I'm probably the most excited for the Expressions lab,” said Bursaw. “I've been really jealous of our colleagues on the West Coast who’ve had this, and I'm ready to dive in. I heard there's programming starting pretty soon.”
Williams said she’s also excited to get a little help honing her crafting skills. “I am not artistic, and I want to get better at that. Self-improvement is becoming a theme for me between this and pool,” she laughed. “I know they're bringing in local artists, so that should be really exciting to learn from them.”
8.An indoor bike cage with hundreds of spaces and a locker room to freshen up before work
The new space was designed with sustainable commuting in mind, which means amenities for bikers was a top priority. Metropolitan Park features a newly installed half mile of protected bike lanes, as well as a bike cage with 620 bike racks and two bike repair and wash stations. There’s also a full locker room with showers to freshen up before the workday.
“I biked in from my house in Washington DC today, which is about a 10-mile ride,” said Bursaw. “I’ve never seen bike facilities this good anywhere. The locker room is huge—it felt like I was at a professional gym. Hats off to the whole team that did that.”Photo by Lucas JacksonPhoto by Lucas Jackson
9.An ideal location and safe walkways for employees who live in the National Landing neighborhood
The location of Amazon’s second headquarters was carefully selected to contribute to a buzzing National Landing business district. The central location makes it easier for neighboring employees to quickly walk into the office. Amazon also installed additional pedestrian pathways to help make it safer for employees to walk and take the metro.
“I actually moved into a building in the area before I knew I would be working at Metropolitan Park,” said Williams. “I loved the building and I saw the construction and figured it would be a great place to live with new developments happening around it. Now I live super close to the office—I walked here today and it only took me like two and a half minutes.”
“My walk only took me about three minutes,” added Kusma. “It was a nice, casual commute into the office.”
10.Parking that offers charging stations for electric vehicles
Amazon offers amenities and benefits to encourage employees to take shared transportation or walk or bike to work. Some employees still prefer or need to drive, and we want to make sure they have the amenities they need too. HQ2 offers a covered parking garage with 290 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
“To be honest, I thought it was going to be a lot tougher to drive into the office because of the way the streets were set up, but it was actually really easy to get into the garage and park,” said Nnacheta. “It was also nice to see all the charging stations that make it easier for EV owners to park their cars.”
11.Outdoor terraces with lots of greenery, great views, and even a few homes for the birds
There are multiple terraces at Metropolitan Park that offer spaces for employees to get outside and enjoy the views during the work day. The employees we caught up with shared that these terraces were a highlight as they scoped out their new digs.
“You step outside onto the terrace and it's like an oasis,” said Bursaw. “I looked up and saw all these round, wooden structures. I watched a few birds flying around them, then it dawned on me that they're bird houses. That was pretty cool.”
“I'm on the 14th floor so I have some of the best views,” added Nnacheta, “But even if you’re not on the 14th floor, there are cool terraces on several levels with lots of green spaces.”
“I checked out two of the terraces, and one had this kind of winding path that was neat,” added Kusma. “I noticed a few grills, and I’m excited to do some team cookouts later this summer. I also enjoyed the view—I could even see my apartment.”
12.Décor with a natural theme and plants that make the space feel tranquil
One common theme we heard as we chatted with employees about their new office was that it “doesn’t feel like a typical office” thanks to the thoughtful design that went into creating a space people can enjoy working in.
“I've worked in a lot of offices in my career—stepping into this one felt different. It’s like something you would see in a magazine and hope you get a chance to work in one day,” said Bursaw.
“The décor has a natural theme with relaxing colors like dark greens and browns,” said Williams. “I like that the theme isn’t polarizing with bright colors, and it's also not white or neutral. It feels warm and peaceful.”
13.A dog park for pups of all shapes and sizes
Amazon loves dogs, and we have dog-friendly offices around the world along with programs to help employees bring their furry friends to work. Of course, HQ2 lives up to this tradition, with several dog parks and a dog-friendly policy for the employees who work there.
“I don’t even have a dog, but I’m excited to meet the dogs my colleagues bring into the office,” said Williams. “I know there's a dog park with different sections for big dogs and little dogs, so I'll just go between both and interact with as many pups as possible when I need a quick break.”
14.Design features that are not just beautiful and functional, but sustainable too
In addition to his role on the AWS Security team, Nnacheta volunteers as a sustainability ambassador at Amazon, which means he helps raise awareness for environmental sustainability across the company. As a final note in our chat with him, he shared his thoughts on the sustainable details incorporated in the design of our second headquarters.
“The building has amazing fauna, and there is a lot of great work being done to make sure things don’t just look good, but they’re also built with sustainability in mind. I think a lot of the local sustainability ambassadors will be excited when they see it.”
15.Comfy nooks that offer a space to work on your own
As employees return to the office, there will be more opportunities to connect with colleagues in the hallways and workspaces, but sometimes they might still want a little solitude. Nnacheta and Williams shared that they found a few quiet spaces they look forward to working in when they need a moment to focus.
“There are lots of little nooks where you can find some quiet for head’s down work. I think that's really helpful when you need a moment away from the group,” said Williams.
“There's a lot of open space, but there are also spots where you can huddle and be in quiet space to get some focused work done,” added Nnacheta. “That definitely makes it easier to come back to the office.”