The goal for the design of this building was to make an architecture that was at once familiar and different. The strategy to achieve this was to privilege the order of difference over the sameness of the systemic. Two basic, yet unusually challenging, objectives informed the design of the office building and garage:
The client’s sincere desire to produce a distinctive architectural experience reasonably within, if not improving, the normative constraints of economy, efficiency and leaseability;
To take full advantage of a dynamic site privileged by four very different orientations and simultaneously embedded within and at the edge of an existing suburban office development.
The building is sited at the northern edge of the property, adjacent to Dulles Toll Road, taking full advantage of the freeway exposure. Its massing—defined by a rhomboid shape; a layered descending- scale grid system comprised of a pre-cast clad structure, an embedded metal frame and storefront modules; and its monochromatic appearance—produces the perception of a much larger, monolithic structure that responds to the expansive freeway scale environment. From the south, the massing simultaneously addresses a very different cul-de-sac approach. Detail of the building mass is screened by a meandering drive through a forest preserve, reducing its perceived scale to a more human, natural condition by allowing the highly textured building to blend with the color and texture of its natural environment.
Producing a definitive sense of entry, the drive broadens as it passes the front door and extends eastwardly to the garage and perimeter parking area. The entire expanse of the south façade is recessed at grade initiating a generous front door procession from both parking areas. The lobby, extending the width of the building, is conceived as a warm glowing environment of abstractly detailed rich wood and stone suspended between the forest and the dynamic, fast-moving freeway.
To the east, the rhomboid shape yields an unobstructed long range view that bypasses the garage. To the west, the rhomboid shape yields a sweeping south to west view of the office park environs.