U.S. Census Bureau Headquarters
Suitland, Maryland
U.S. Census Bureau Headquarters
Suitland, Maryland

They aren’t just numbers. They’re people. Those behind the census are people, too.  People with a need to feel comfortable, productive, motivated. Because life isn’t about numbers or statistics. It’s about studying, understanding and evolving the human experience.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has delivered a new, sustainable home to the U.S. Census Bureau: a 1.5 million-square-foot building with a 1 million-square-foot structured parking garage. This facility houses 6,000 employees and contains offices, a conference area, cafeteria, credit union, fitness center, library and support space. The complex also is LEED Gold certified. The GSA’s continuing commitment to build facilities in accordance to the LEED Green Building program shows an ongoing desire and financial commitment to provide great places for people to work while at the same time reducing costs. As the Census staff uses the facility and takes advantage of the passive and active design features, the culture of this energy and environmentally conscious life at the office is becoming an outreach program with a life of its own.


The Vision

The building floor plan, massing and aesthetics were defined by the bridging documents. The flexibility of the floor plan in the linear layout allows for the integration of exterior daylight into the open office space, thus requiring less artificial lighting and the extension of views to the exterior from the interior spaces, consistent with LEED objectives. The linear plan also follows a regular structural column grid that is conducive to the furniture module and repetitious space planning objectives of the GSA for a flexible open office environment that easily can accommodate churn and future growth within each department.

The HKS/Skanska design-build team used a 2 foot-by-2 foot ceiling grid, consistent with space planning objectives identified in the PBS-100 for the flexibility of future space planning modifications with the systems furniture. A 9.6-foot ceiling height with direct/indirect pendant lighting fixtures enhances the open office plan with a higher volume of space and a more even level of illumination across the workplace environment. The under-floor air distribution and raised-access floor system economizes the supply air, electrical power and voice/data distribution to each workstation without being visible, and provides individual temperature control at each location while allowing for future change.


The Approach

The HKS/Skanska design-build team selected the hybrid structural framing system of pre-cast concrete columns and beams. Cast-in-place beam tops and floor slabs combine the speed of erection and factory accuracy of pre-cast concrete components with the durability and ability of customization of cast-in-place concrete. This system is economical and meets the aggressive construction schedule for the garage phases, due to its simplicity in erection and forming. The final design solution provided an open-structure garage, minimizing below-grade ventilated parking, and electrical and mechanical requirements for the garages as well as providing a more energy-efficient and lower-maintenance design solution.