Page D1.2 . 14 August 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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QUIZ

Corporate Crystals

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Instead of building a single highrise to house the two media companies, Pedersen's solution of splitting the complex into two angled, glass units flowing together both inside and out, yet giving greater height to the parent company articulates architecturally the companies' separate identities.

Media Headquarters

The taller Gannett tower steps down to the twelve-story glass building which houses the Gannett administrative offices. The USA Today tower steps down to a nine-story glass building for its administrative offices and television and newspaper editorial and production staff.

Each building steps further down to flanking, attached glass buildings. The distinct massing of Gannett and USA Today is united visually and communally by a three-story, boomerang-shaped base.

This varied exterior massing changes dramatically as seen from a car speeding along 495 or the Dulles access road. Yet the centrifugal pull of these two groups of buildings is held in check by the base. These lower stories hold the complex together visually and provide the shared spaces such as conference rooms, gym, and cafeteria with panoramic views of the landscape.

Turning its back on its pebble-stone faced, late-brutalist neighbors to the west, the Gannett/ USA Today complex faces a large naturalistic retention pool and beyond it volleyball courts, jogging trail, and a wooded area at the east end of the site. Between this area and the road is a glass guard booth capped by a steep, sloping roof. Even this minor structure makes a strong public statement for Gannett/ USA Today.

Pedersen and landscape architect Michael Vergason have integrated the buildings into the landscape by using a warm brownstone both for the buildings' base and a series of terraces stepping down to the pool.

A tall base of the same stone repeats in the angled parking garage built between the Gannett/ USA Today structure and its immediate institutional neighbor to the west. The garage's stone base bridges the underground entrance to the garage, linking it to the Gannett/ USA Today building.

This pedestrian link between the two structures provides a lush green landscape for such amenities as sitting and eating, more sports courts, and a pleasant transition from parking to office. The upper levels of the garage are screened by perforated metal panels, not merely softening the appearance of the garage, but also making it a visual extension of the high-tech building complex.

Campus in Motion

As one approaches the buildings and walks the perimeter, one is struck by the sense of motion, changing vistas, and even changing colors caused by the light striking the vertical glass fins that act as prisms casting bands of bright purples, blues, and magentas against the glass walls.

This sense of motion continues into the multistory lobby with its suspended stairs, glass elevator shafts, and wide rear stairs, all under a lobby ceiling of aluminum leaf on plaster substrate.

Beyond the common spaces, the office interiors, designed by Lehman-Smith + McLeish, are drenched with natural lighting. Large, flat, wall-mounted television monitors are common in the conference rooms and open office spaces, which are defined by custom modules. Free-standing interior stairs and original artwork convey the sense that this is a dynamic place to work.   >>>

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Night view of the Gannett/ USA Today corporate headquarters by Kohn Pedersen Fox.
Photo: Timothy Hursley

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KPF's trademark transparency translated into relatively low-rise buildings.
Photo: Timothy Hursley

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Brownstone terraces step down to a pool from the Gannett/ USA Today building.
Photo: Michael Dersin

ArchWeek Image

The distinct massing of Gannett/ USA Today is united visually by a three-story, boomerang-shaped base.
Photo: Timothy Hursley

ArchWeek Image

Typical floor plan, Gannett/ USA Today.
Image: Kohn Pedersen Fox

ArchWeek Image

Cross section, Gannett/ USA Today.
Image: Kohn Pedersen Fox

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Longitudinal section, Gannett/ USA Today.
Image: Kohn Pedersen Fox

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Suspended stair and lobby.
Photo: Timothy Hursley

 

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