When Gannett/USA TODAY decided to relocate its headquarters from Arlington to McLean, Va., the company not only moved into the suburbs, but it also distinguished itself from other high profile businesses in the area. The distinctiveness of the architectural design, by Kohn Pedersen Fox of New York, with significant contributions by landscape architect Michael Verguson of Arlington, Va. and interior architects Lehman-Smith+McLeish of Washington, D.C., makes the building stand out. Looking more like a crystalline palace than an office building, the facade of the 820,000-square-foot headquarters is constructed entirely of glass, reflecting light from every angle.
Overlooking a landscaped courtyard and a stormwater pond, the structure is divided into a nine-story tower, which houses USA TODAY’s news rooms and offices, and a 12-story block for parent company Gannett. These towers flank a beautifully designed plaza and landscaped terraces with cascading water features. The dramatic focal point of the complex is the two exterior glass elevator shafts that rise the entire height of the towers and stand illuminated at night. Connecting the two structures is a three-story podium containing a sunlight atrium, conference and training facilities, a cafeteria, coffee shop, fitness center and other amenities.
Seating up to 300, a 8,000-square-foot auditorium is the center piece of the first floor of the podium. It features theater seating on a sloped floor in the back half of the hall and workstations that line up close to the stage. The split arrangement of the floor, also expressed by curving strips of sycamore on the ceiling, makes small-scale briefings and training sessions close to the stage more intimate, while still able to accommodate larger events. Two 100,000-square-foot newsrooms, conference rooms and glassed-in offices occupy the podium’s second and third floors.