Gensler Brings Nature Inside LMI’s HQ
When approaching a corporate office park, visitors generally encounter a sprawling, impersonal parking lot. But at LMI’s new headquarters, the usual segue from car to office is circumvented. Visitors to the government consulting firm pull into a covered garage off the driveway and walk to a grand reception area with stunning floor-to-ceiling views of a wooded site overlooking a pond. Says CEO and president Nelson Ford, “It’s as bucolic as anything in Tysons Corner,” a suburban stretch 15 miles west of Washington, DC.
Gensler combined the structure’s basement level and first floor to create a double-height entry infused with natural light. Guests check in at a 20-foot-long blue-glass reception desk and continue through the white-on-white space to a commanding teak staircase lit by a cascade of LED-tipped aluminum rods. The procession of dramatic focal points stems from the concept of “creating a memorable moment,” as design director and senior associate John McKinney puts it.
The other big idea was to transition the 500 staffers from the former warren of private offices to a largely open-plan environment. Since LMI employees conduct intensive research on sensitive government matters (such as military logistics), Gensler clustered them in noise-insulated neighborhoods away from high-traffic areas like communal pantries and elevators (which funnel directly into large conference rooms). Group discussions are held in small meeting areas adjacent to each team’s respective neighborhood, so employees can “jump up, do their team sharing, and go back to their focused work,” explains McKinney.
Despite the high-security nature of the LEED Gold building, unobstructed views to the surrounding landscape lend an open and bright feel, in stark contrast to the previous long corridors and dark corners. The few private offices have glass walls, as do meeting rooms, many of which are paneled in teak veneer. Even the staircase linking the building’s six floors, with its spine of orange acrylic panels lit from within, floats alongside the west-facing curtain wall. “Being around this much light has definitely lifted our mood,” CEO Ford points out. “It’s pretty hard to come in here and be grumpy.”
Gensler: Lisa Amster; Evan Rosner; Ann Gottlieb; Rachel Bradley; Joseph Siewers; Tim Wright; Yukiko Takahashi. Lighting Consultant: HDLC Architectural Lighting Design. Audiovisual Consultant: CMS Audiovisual. Structural Engineer: Cardno Haynes Whaley. Mep: WSP Group. Woodworkers: Washington Woodworking; IBS Millwork. General Contractor: HITT Contracting.