Amazon’s second headquarters’ (HQ2) commitment to the National Capital Region has always kept the community front and center—from creating a 2.5-acre public park to working with local companies, designers, and artisans to bring the vision of Metropolitan Park to life. While the overarching design at the company’s HQ2 is more hospitality-forward, the materials used throughout are built on the principles established with Amazon’s humble beginnings. The completed design features are a product of both Amazon’s evolution as well as the incorporation of elements that pay homage to the local roots of the region, weaving together design influences from beloved regional natural resources like the Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay, and Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, while also highlighting the juxtaposition of an urban center of activity like Washington, D.C., with the placidity of the nearby natural wonders.
This commitment has provided a unique opportunity for artists locally and around the world, and we’ve compiled the 18 intriguing installations from more than 25 artists. The commissioned art pieces span a range of genres, styles, and cultural influence. From mathematics-inspired spatial depictions of the Dupont Circle chess scene and abstract depictions of the Potomac River fauna to celebrating the beloved national cherry blossoms, these meaningful works of art further intertwine Amazon and the community.
Check out the pieces the community can take in while strolling through the Metropolitan Park public space and featured around the buildings.
by Nekisha Durrett (Washington, D.C.)
Standing tall and vigilant, Queen City by Nekisha Durrett confronts the 1941 seizure of Black-owned land by the federal government for the construction of the Pentagon. Within this work, 903 displaced residents of Queen City, Virginia, are represented by handmade ceramic vessels made in the shape and color of a drop of water.
In the spirit of collaboration, the artist commissioned Black ceramicists from the local area and beyond while working with historians, living descendants of Queen City residents, and local art spaces.
2.Untitled Perched Objects
by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle (Chicago, Illinois)
Untitled Perched Objects by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle populates one’s journey along the forest path with a series of events. The assortment is familiar yet unexpected—a balancing umbrella, a telescope arrested midfall, a canted stool with a mug peering over its seat, a birdhouse perched on its own perch with dangling binoculars, and a disposable cup with its lid and straw weighted by its contents. They invite the viewer to consider all the objects that surround us—those overlooked and those that may hold our focus. Each is a part of the everyday yet extraordinary, recognizable yet inexplicable.
by Aurora Robson (New York City)
To create Shhh, artist Aurora Robson scanned both mushrooms and hand-sculpted forms, and then 3D-printed them with upcycled plastic. At night, each component responds to movement by glowing softly from within, reminiscent of the bioluminescent mushrooms found in nearby forests.
Shhh invites us to step out of everyday life to marvel at the incredible diversity of nature and the many details we often don’t see or hear—unless we are quietly paying attention. Guests can scan a QR Code on the installation to learn about the mushroom species, locations, and the artwork's innovative fabrication process.
by JD Deardourff (Washington, D.C.)
The Free Birds mural by JD Deardourff follows an exterior-facing staircase all the way up and makes it seem like you’re rising higher and higher toward the treetops—evoking the beauty of the natural world and nodding to the relationship between humans and nature. The plants and animals in this mural were inspired by the artist’s walk through the U.S. National Arboretum.
Born in Washington, Deardourff is perhaps most recognizable for the signature blazing palette that his work exhibits. Artificial color and a comic book–inspired style combine to produce bold compositions that put his own spin on traditional genres of landscape, still life, and portraiture.
by MISS CHELOVE (Washington, D.C.)
Complementing Free Birds, the Pollinator’s Promise mural by MISS CHELOVE spans another exterior facing staircase in the building. Butterflies, birds, and plants come together to depict the pollination of flowers and channel the beauty and peace of nature. As you climb the stairs, you are rejuvenated by the various stages of pollination.
Cita Sadeli (MISS CHELOVE) is an independent Washington-based art director, muralist, designer, and illustrator. Her work draws on her multicultural background rooted in Java, Indonesia, and her upbringing in the district.
by Jackie Head (Alfred, New York)
When you walk into the 15th Street lobby of Metropolitan Park’s south tower (the Merlin building), you’re greeted by an elaborate sculpture of custom tile designs that reference the local narrative of the Arlington and northern Virginia area. The design, Rainbow River by Jackie Head, evokes nostalgia and a sense of home.
by Kirsten Hassenfeld (Brooklyn, New York)
Hanging two floors above the events center lobby check-in, Cherry Smash by Kirsten Hassenfeld of Brooklyn is a hanging sculpture made of recycled materials and found objects. The installation is arranged to give the impression of standing under one of Washington’s famous cherry blossom trees as petals fall.
The centerpiece of the design—a sconce displaying the name Cherry Smash—highlights a local brewery that, during Prohibition, switched to producing Cherry Smash soda, which was the No. 2 most popular drink in the U.S. at the time, behind Coca-Cola. Additional unique pieces, from antique and secondhand stores up and down the East Coast, range from bowling pins to lampshades and strainers.
by Rob Ley Studio (Los Angeles, California)
Spanning three walls across the lobby of both Metropolitan Park towers, Silver Lining by Rob Ley Studio is an immersive piece of public artwork consisting of polished and painted aluminum. Thousands of mirrors capture bits of color and movement to form a glimmering spectacle that seems to take on an artistic life of its own. The movement of the sun through the sky to passersby walking through the public lobby are reflected in this piece for fleeting moments.
by Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann (Washington, D.C.)
The second floor of the main lobby of Merlin features Murmur, Babble, a mixed-media installation by Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann of Washington, consisting of canvas, mosaic on wood, and cut vinyl depicting the Potomac River’s role in the region’s ecology. Mann’s paintings draw together multiple techniques and styles to create a poignant, elegant final product.
10.Untitled (Floral Mural)
by Corynne Ostermann (Baltimore, Maryland)
Untitled (Floral Mural) is a custom mural by Baltimore’s Corynne Osterman that features native flora from the Potomac River region in grayscale with hints of metallic pigment, flowing through the building’s Servery like a river.
11.Memento Morididdle Movement #790
by Charles Clary (Conway, South Carolina)
The game room walls feature Memento Morididdle Movement #790, an installation made from cut paper that builds on the tradition of cameo portraiture and offers a modern interpretation of historical textures. Artist Charles Clary of Conway demonstrates a mastery of the use of space, allowing for the creation of thought-provoking constructions that channel everything from microorganism colonies to sound waves.
The game room itself, called “Queen Ruth’s Billiards,” honors Ruth McGinnis, a star billiards player in the mid-20th century Washington billiards scene. She won hundreds of competitions against men and women, which cemented her place in the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame.
by Emma Childs (Washington, D.C.)
In Through-Line, artist Emma Childs of Washington channels architecture and building in her kitchenette wall art installation, creating a strikingly beautiful spatial arrangement of shapes and colors. The large-scale groupings of paintings, replete with minimalistic colors and forms, evoke the Potomac River’s role as a geographic connector.
Childs was born in Baltimore and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Maryland Institute of Art. Her visualization of art as building results in final pieces that use elegant shapes and thoughtful pops of color to create objects that physically interact with the environment.
by AllKinds Studio (Chicago, Illinois)
The main hallway contains the Expanding Structure wall sculpture, consisting of reclaimed materials arranged in an abstract design and complementing the nearby ceramic pieces. Placed atop a terra cotta wall, the sculpture seems as if it is integrated into the wall behind it, forming a coherent and aesthetically pleasing whole.
14.Ceramic Screen Wall
by Brian Peters Studio (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
As you enter WAS19, you’ll pass a gorgeous and cleanly designed Ceramic Screen Wall designed by Brian Peters of Pittsburgh. Vibrant clay blocks of jade, turquoise, teal, and other calming tones combine to produce a stunningly beautiful and tasteful office lobby.
by D’Metrius John Rice (Baltimore, Maryland)
With the genius of an artist and precision of a scholar, Baltimore’s D’Metrius John Rice’s Silly Loqui is inspired by questions of the human condition and spatial anomalies in mathematics. This combination makes the subject of his game room mural fitting—his piece is an homage to the Dupont Chess Circle, and the vibrant culture and diversity represented by the group.
Rice has lived and worked in the Washington area all his life—he was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, and lives and works in Baltimore. His artwork elementally renders complex concepts into two dimensions, drawing inspiration from spatial anomalies in mathematics to convey questions of the human condition.
(locations throughout the U.S.)
As you sit in the café, you are greeted by gorgeous framed art from various artists spanning multiple styles and genres. This collection was curated by ArtLifting, a social enterprise that champions artists impacted by disabilities and housing insecurity through the sale and celebration of their artwork. Additionally, all artists represented on this wall are from diverse groups.
by Gabriel Schama (Oakland, California)
Inside of the interactive Amazon Visitor Landing, community members will be treated to the sight of Potomac Flow, a gorgeous architectural installation of laser-cut plywood, arranged delicately and precisely to create an expressionist and striking piece. The artist, Gabriel Schama of Oakland, conceives of his projects digitally with complex vector illustrations and then brings them to life tangibly.
by Brittany Gould (Berlin, Germany)
Artist Brittany Gould, born in Washington, D.C., and current resident of Berlin, Germany, uses light and complex geometry as a tool to create perceived space in her work—this skillful approach means that her Great Falls piece adorning the east-facing staircase creates a welcoming atmosphere for passersby. Consisting of many individual facets in neutral brown, cream, and copper tones, the piece’s beauty lies in its subtlety.