By breathing new life into an old site, a collaborative campus for the United States intelligence community has been created by LEO A DALY
Responding to the 9/11 Commission Report’s call for increased collaboration among intelligence-gathering services, this $300m, state-of-the-art headquarters for the United States intelligence community in Bethesda, MD provides a centralized hub for knowledge sharing among the 16 intelligence agencies housed there.
"Intelligence Community Campus – Bethesda represents a new way of thinking, a new way of working, and a new transparency for the Defense Intelligence Agency,” said Jim Sokolowski, Vice President at LEO A DALY.
“This facility is – in so many ways – the physical manifestation of ‘intelligence integration,’” said James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence.
“This audacious project involved the reimagining and repositioning of an outmoded, parking-lot-dominated office campus into a quiet, naturalistic setting for the Defense Intelligence Agency,” wrote Dave Barista, Editorial Director for BD+C.
The total project scope includes over 750,000 SF of new construction and renovation to the 1940s campus of the former National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. At its heart is the new, Z-shaped, 220,000-sf Centrum Building, which links three existing buildings and serves as the vertebra of the campus. The existing buildings were hardened with Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection and re-skinned to embody a cohesive, non-institutional exterior aesthetic.
Designed to be a new icon for U.S. intelligence, the campus retains its security and performance standards while finding a new architectural language inspired by and respectful to its National-Park-adjacent context. Rather than a single, monolithic building, the design suggests the notion of campus as field, connecting and organizing an assemblage of interior and exterior space. Rhythmic patterns of mirror-like glass evoke the forested surroundings and break up the buildings’ massing, while a dappled skin of matte metal panels creates a sense of translucency, playing on the idea of natural camouflage.
Secure spaces for education, training and one-to-one exchanges of data combine in a collaborative office environment designed to adapt quickly to changing agency needs. Workspaces closer resemble a leading high-tech creative company than the typical government office. Connections to nature are achieved through an outdoor dining terrace, green roofs, a 14,000-sf plaza, natural-light-filled interiors and a park-like landscape of perennial gardens.
Sustainability and local context drove the site design, which was guided by a Sustainable Return-on-Investment analysis. Moving 20 acres of impermeable surface parking to a six-story, zero-net-energy garage allowed designers to return the landscape to its pre-development condition. Micro-bioretention areas, green roofs, and a 30,000-gallon cistern help manage and reuse rainwater, while halting erosion on the neighboring bluff and addressing downstream siltation in the Potomac River.
The LEED Silver certified project incorporates N+1 redundancy for mission-critical systems. Six separate solar arrays, each requiring a custom support system that integrates with varying roof slopes, meet the specified requirement of a 90mph wind load. The project is net-zero-ready – designed to be ultra-efficient, with solar hot water arrays putting the campus on the path to achieving net-zero use.
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