The much-anticipated first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 in National Landing is finally open. Metropolitan Park consists of two 22-story towers—one named Jasper (a code name for an Alexa project), the other Merlin (a code name for an Amazon Web Service project). Together, the towers have over 2.1 million square feet of office space and 50,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, which will house 14 local businesses. Additionally, Amazon spent $14 million renovating 2.5 acres of public park space surrounding MetPark. The towers will eventually host 12,500 Amazonians. The 8,000 HQ2ers who currently work in the area will phase into MetPark over the course of the summer, where they’re expected to come in to the office three days a week.
Arlington was selected as the site for HQ2 in 2018. The plan is for Amazon to ultimately invest $2.5 billion in the campus, creating 25,000 HQ2 jobs by 2030. Earlier this year, it was announced that construction on the second phase of HQ2, PenPlace, was paused for the time being (yes, that is the future home of the poop-emoji building).
Each of MetPark’s two ground-floor lobbies are open to the public and are meant to give off an inviting, front-lawn kind of vibe: think lots of plants, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that open to the outdoors, a giant art installation made of undulating mirrors that flows from one tower’s lobby to the next, and large staircases reminiscent of those at the Seattle campus. Additionally, there’s a Good Company Donuts & Cafe in one of the ground-floor lobbies that hands out free coffee and donuts to employees and the public Monday through Friday.
Amazonians’ workspace begins on the second floor of each tower with a three-story “Center of Energy” that serves as an entryway to the office areas and a community space for gathering and one-on-ones. A stairway interspersed with plants and riser-style seating sits in the middle of the space (another nod to the Seattle office), with booths and lounge areas scattered across the floor. There’s also a grab-and-go snack and drink area and a coffee bar. Altogether, MetPark has eight different food concepts, with four additional coffee spots featuring local roasters like Zeke’s and Chesapeake Coffee Roasters. They’re only designed to host 30 percent of MetPark’s capacity, though, as the goal is to get workers out into National Landing to support local dining spots.
Amenity space also includes a game room with pool and foosball tables; an Expressions Lab—a studio where Amazonians can take painting or 3-D printing classes; and tons of greenery and outdoor access. The towers have a combined acre of green roof space, several terraces, outdoor kitchens with grills, and an urban farm, where HQ2ers can take gardening classes. The Amazon horticulture team has also partnered with the group Love and Carrots to donate the farm’s produce to the nonprofit Kitchen of Purpose.
MetPark is also big on Amazonians bringing their pups to work: There are two rooftop dog terraces, indoor dog “stalls” where you can leash your four-legged pal while you grab a sandwich, and a huge gallery wall featuring portraits and names of various Amazon employees’ dogs.
All of MetPark is sprinkled with little Easter eggs and whimsical design touches. Sculptures of dogwoods, Virginia’s state flower, hang from the Expression Lab’s ceiling. Seating “nests” are tucked throughout the building for cozy hang-outs. A ceiling sculpture made of pink-and-white found objects and inspired by the cherry blossoms hangs over one of the lobbies. And each framed paper butterfly in a huge gallery display is named after an Amazon department—but with a binomial nomenclature twist (ie. Customer Servicis Associateus). Art by local artists fills the towers, and the lobby furniture is made by the Richmond-based Sallie Plumley Studio.
And the actual office areas—aka the “Headcount Spaces” in Amazonian parlance—are designed with nods to the Potomac and its surrounding waterways. There’s a motif with outlines of Rock Creek Park’s topography lining the floors, and compass-like designs on the glass doors. Employee lockers are designed to resemble shipping containers with nautical-looking lights. Curving wooden communal tables in the employee kitchens were designed by Baltimore’s Sandtown Furniture Co. and made to mimic the bends in a river.
In one of the towers, there’s a 700-person event space that can be used by the local community. It’s designed so it can be converted into a blackbox theater but also be lit solely via daylight—there are several skylights in the space, and it has windows with shutters that automatically rotate throughout the day to keep out glare but still let in light.
Sustainability is also a crucial component at MetPark. It’s totally powered by renewable energy via a Virginia solar farm, meaning no fossil fuels—everything’s electric, even in the kitchens. It was built with low-carbon concrete, and light shelves reflect daylight into the building, automatically dimming overhead lights. There are also red and green lights next to office windows letting Amazonians know when the humidity, temperature, and air quality are prime for open-window working.
Outside, sunshades line the glass exterior of the towers, keeping cooling costs lower, and the glass is also covered in a dot pattern and metal fins to keep birds from flying into it. The landscaping on MetPark’s exterior terraces and the park area surrounding it consists of over 160 types of native plants, with certain areas dedicated to flora and fauna found in swaths of Virginia like the Blue Ridge or the Piedmont. The parking garage offers 290 EV charging stations, and there are 620 bike racks, two bike repair and wash stations, and showers and locker rooms for commuters.
Surrounding the towers, you’ll find two dog parks, a playground, a central green, and walking paths lined with art installations like the artist Aurora Robson’s 3D-printed mushrooms made of recycled plastic that light up at night, and 35-foot-tall brick tower by Nekisha Durrett called Queen City. The piece is named after a Black Arlington community that was displaced in the 1940s after the federal government claimed the land to build the Pentagon; the structure contains 903 ceramic vessels that represent each of the uprooted residents.
The 14 retailers on the ground floor will include another outpost of Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe, Conte’s Bike Shop, District Dogs, Hustle Fitness, Social Burger, South Block, Celebree School, Glo30, Peruvian Brothers, Taqueria Xochi, Toby’s Ice Cream, Mae’s Market, Museum of Contemporary Art in Arlington, and Makers Union. The first three are currently open, but expect the rest to launch throughout the summer.
MetPark will host a public community day June 17 to celebrate its opening. Starting at 10 a.m., swing by from remarks from community leaders as they kick off the first session of MetPark’s farmer’s market, complete with a DJ, a kids’ zone, and, of course, an appearance by the famous Amazon banana stand.