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Thursday, June 15, 2023

Amazon's Second Headquarters

Amazon officially opens first phase of HQ2 in Virginia with room for 14k employees

By Kurt SchlosserJune 15, 2023
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, center, cuts a ribbon alongside Amazon leaders Candi Castleberry, Brian Huseman, John Schoettler and Holly Sullivan at the opening day for Metropolitan Park, the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington, Va. (Amazon Photo)

Free bananas and dogs at the office — Amazon is officially open for business at its HQ2 in Arlington, Va.

The Seattle-based tech giant cut the ribbon Thursday on Metropolitan Park, a 2.1-million-square-foot campus that will serve as the first phase of Amazon’s second headquarters.

The campus features two 22-story buildings which will house 8,000 Amazon employees at the start. The original plan calls for HQ2 to be home to 25,000 workers by 2030.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy called Arlington “tremendous” in a tweet on Thursday and said the company was proud to call the city home.

“We look forward to inventing for customers and being an active part of the community for many years to come,” Jassy wrote.

The opening comes after the company paused construction on the second phase of HQ2 in March as it continued to navigate its hybrid work policies, layoffs, and an economic downturn.

“We’re always evaluating space plans to make sure they fit our business needs and to create a great experience for employees,” Amazon real estate chief John Schoettler said in a statement to GeekWire at the time. “And since Met Park will have space to accommodate more than 14,000 employees, we’ve decided to shift the groundbreaking of PenPlace (the second phase of HQ2) out a bit.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, in red tie, and First Lady Suzanne Youngkin take a tour of HQ2 with Amazon real estate chief John Schoettler, left, on Thursday. (Amazon Photo)

In photographs on Amazon’s blog, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin was show getting the full tour treatment, complete with a stop at an Amazon Banana Stand and the chance to pet an office dog — both workplace activities that have been commonplace in Seattle for decades.

“I want to thank Amazon for your commitment to the community,” Youngkin said. “We celebrate this partnership building a better and a brighter future right here in Virginia. The Amazon team is truly engaged fully, not just in their business, but in Virginia.”

More photos released last month show off some of the features and campus amenities of HQ2.

The two office towers are named Jasper, a code name used for a project to enhance the customer experience for Alexa, and Merlin, a codename for QuickSight, a product that helps AWS customers generate dashboards powered by AI insights.

The buildings will run with no operational carbon emissions and will be powered by 100% renewable energy from a nearby solar farm, according to Amazon.

Metropolitan Park is the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington, Va. (Amazon Photo)

There is a 2.5-acre public open space with 175 native trees and plantings, a dog park, public art installations, walking paths, a children’s garden and play area, and space for seasonal weekend farmers markets.

A rooftop vegetable garden is designed to distribute food to local organizations through non-profits.

There are 620 bike racks, two bike repair and wash stations, a half-mile of protected bike lanes, and four levels of below-grade parking with 290 electric vehicle charging stations.

Previous design plans for HQ2 have included a spiraling centerpiece building called The Helix.

Amazon launched the highly-publicized HQ2 sweepstakes in 2017 as it searched for a location for a second North American headquarters. The company originally said it would split a 50,000-person second headquarters between Northern Virginia and New York City, but it pulled out of its NYC plans after political backlash.

 

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