We are excited to share some design updates to PenPlace, the second phase of our HQ2 development in Arlington, Virginia. Over the past eight months, we’ve been working with Arlington County staff and actively listening to feedback from the local community to continue improving our initial project.
We appreciate the ideas and have made changes to enhance the overall connectivity of the site. We also incorporated additional sustainable elements and more greenery into the design, and diversified the architecture within PenPlace. These updates make the entire project even better, benefitting our neighbors and all those that will visit HQ2.
Here are more details about the improvements we’re proposing:

Improved connectivity

Our vision is to help enhance a neighborhood, not to create a campus just for Amazon employees. To achieve this goal, we want PenPlace to be connected to the surrounding area and easily accessible, to create an open and welcoming place for residents and visitors. Our new plans incorporate substantial changes to improve connectivity to, around, and through the site.
Based on direct community input, we made it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to move through the PenPlace site, widening the paths that cross the site from east to west and adding a mid-block stair toward the northern boundary of the site to supplement the walkway at the base of The Helix. We also added protected bike lanes to ensure that PenPlace connects to the comprehensive local bike transit plan, and we increased the width of selected sidewalks where we anticipate the heaviest pedestrian traffic.
All of these adjustments will create more direct, wider pathways through the site and make traversing PenPlace even safer. It will also make the public Central Green and urban forest at the center of PenPlace even more accessible for everyone to enjoy.

Sustainable design and green space

Sustainability has been a key element of HQ2’s development from the start. At PenPlace, we’re working to achieve a minimum of:
  • 10% reduction in the amount of embodied carbon compared to typical construction practices, followed by a commitment to offset 100% of the remaining embodied carbon.
  • 50% reduction in water consumption beyond national standards, using low-flow fixtures and reclaimed water.
  • 30% energy savings below the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers baseline, with electrified building systems powered by 100% renewable energy through a combination of both on-site solar and local off-site solar generation.
These goals help support Amazon’s Climate Pledge, an initiative to be net-zero carbon by 2040, 10 years before the Paris Agreement.
The community is also excited about the connection to nature throughout PenPlace. Local residents told us they wanted even more green space and native plant species in the site. In response, we’ve expanded the planted area by 5,500 square feet and reduced the amount of impermeable surfaces, such as paving. We are excited to be able to deliver 2.5 acres of public open space for everyone to enjoy at PenPlace.

Diverse architecture

Arlington neighbors asked us to explore options to make each of the three PenPlace office buildings look more diverse. They wanted to see each building look different than the others to add creativity and uniqueness to the architectural design beyond The Helix. Based on that input, we’ve made various adjustments to make each building distinctive and special. We’ve broken up the building facades, making each base, middle, and top stand out more. We’ve also given each building more distinct character by making the exterior of the three structures a different color and texture, inspired by the local landscape.
Plus, we’ve doubled the number of rooftop solar panels and made them part of the building profiles on the skyline. The retail pavilions will have roof meadows, and all building terraces will include landscaping to continue enhancing the connection to nature throughout the project.
We are excited that these changes will create a better space for both Amazon employees coming to work at HQ2, and the entire community—neighbors and visitors alike.