Gannett/USA Today Headquarters

McLean, VA, USA Hines, Gannett Co. Lehman Smith McLeish, Interior Designer Corporate 820,000 ft2 / 76,000 m2 AIA National Chapter Honor Award for Architecture (2005), Business Week/Architectural Record Award (2003)

The Gannett/USA Today Corporate Headquarters sits on a 30-acre site near Washington, D.C., merging two related corporate groups into a distinctive signature complex. The design rejects the typical suburban object building—adrift in a sea of parking—in favor of a site-integrated, space-making form.

The headquarters is designed to maintain operations at all times through redundant power and global satellite communications systems. Three basic elements define the program: newsroom and production areas, office areas, and shared facilities. Typical office spaces are located in the towers, and are flexible to allow for departmental change and reorganization. Common spaces are distributed along the entry level of the complex, with flexible, deep newsroom and production spaces in high-ceiling areas in podium levels 2 and 3. Employee amenities, including a cafeteria and fitness center, engage the landscaped setting.

The varied material properties of glass define the complex not only as a gentle reflection of the surrounding landscape, but also as an open, active community. Transparent, translucent, mirrored, textured, acid-etched, and fritted glazing refracts light and reflects landscape and sky. Projecting glass fins, two-foot six-inches on center, veil the reflective portions of the buildings and afford prismatic effects from their beveled edges. The material palette further explores a wide range of textures, from rusticated fieldstone to polished stone and metal to warm wood and aluminum leaf.

At the entrance lobby, the “harp” stair drops from a skylight. Five-inch-thick treads of polished Emerald Pearl granite are suspended from polished stainless-steel rods. The crisscrossing tension rod structure below is anchored to the edge of a reflecting pool. The pool’s polished black granite rises from the white marble lobby floor to form a landing that interlocks with the suspended stair and extends into the exterior lotus pond that marks the intersection of the Gannett and USA Today operations.

Image 1 / 9 | © Timothy Hursley