Washington Headquarters Services
Alexandria, Virginia
Washington Headquarters Services
Alexandria, Virginia

Needs. Requirements. Inspiration. Three words that aren’t commonly seen together. Our goal was to take one of the nation’s most important spaces and build it for exacting security and productivity needs while understanding the deep human need for inspiration.

This state-of-the-art facility was built to reflect the vision established by the Secretary of Defense to enhance the quality of the workplace for both employer and employees. These changes included but were not limited to: transforming the current and future force and its support system to meet new threats, eliminating excess physical capacity, enhancing force protection, increasing efficiency and interoperability, reducing costs and improving joint capabilities.  Additionally, these facilities contain cutting-edge technology that contributes to the Department of Defense personnel’s ability to take on some of the nation’s most important missions, in a safe and secure environment.


The Vision

The vision for WHS was to create a work environment that is healthy for its employees as well as the environment that surrounds it. We sought to obtain LEED Gold certification by using cutting-edge strategies in environmentally sustainable design solutions and employing construction methodology to ensure water savings, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality and a sustainable site design.

This project posed a challenge to the design team, as it required constructing and delivering nearly 2 million square feet of secure office space for the Department of Defense agencies in a 33-month span. In order to overcome this challenge, a project leadership team was established to give both ownership and accountability to stakeholders as well as foster team cohesiveness and camaraderie toward a common goal. Monthly reviews would keep the stakeholders involved and aware of the project goals, and resolve any action items that may have been hindering the project’s progress. In turn, this method of collaboration allowed for an early project delivery date.


The Design

The buildings are modern and progressive in character. Aesthetically, they appear visually solid and strong with a rich architectural precast and glass skin that represents strength, stability and progressiveness. The project consists of 100 percent new class “A” construction, allowing for spacious nine-foot-four-inch ceilings in an open office environment.

The building technology is sophisticated, offering state-of-the-art quality in all of its systems. It is notable for its spectacular views of both Washington, D.C. and its immediate, natural campus setting, creating a wonderful workplace environment.

The first U.S. Army Corps project of this size to earn LEED Gold certification, the 1.87-million-square-foot Department of Defense administrative office complex and over 1.3 million square feet in parking structures clearly illustrate the U.S. Government’s commitment to sustainable design. Utilizing cutting-edge strategies in environmentally sustainable construction and site development, the project mitigates its overall impact on the environment by enabling energy efficiency, water savings, indoor environmental quality and sustainable site design. Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting fixtures throughout the facility supply the building with all of its general office lighting needs while also contributing significantly to a 30 percent reduction in energy consumption. Other energy saving features include occupancy sensors, a high-efficiency central chiller plant, demand-controlled ventilation and a dedicated outdoor air system with energy recovery wheels. Careful selection of low-flow faucets, shower heads and plumbing fixtures, along with zero-irrigation and drought-tolerant landscaping, reduces potable water usage by 45 percent. The project design also maximizes the use of visible green elements, including green roof designs for the Visitor’s Center and Remote Inspection Facility, a bioswale for filtering storm water runoff and an extensive green screen that wraps the façade of one of the parking structures. During construction, waste recycling practices diverted an estimated 6 million pounds of potable construction waste from landfills. To encourage use of mass transit such as busses and shuttle services to reduce fossil fuel emissions, the project features its own transportation center, limited onsite parking for about 60 percent of the overall occupants and 375 preferred-parking spots allocated for carpools and hybrid vehicles.


“Architecturally, the office campus is visually appealing inside and out, complementing the existing campus workplace environment and integrating with the natural setting.”
|  Mike Nicolaus, AIA, Principal and Senior Designer, HKS, Inc.   |