Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Headquarters

Washington, DC, 2008 / Built

Designed as part of the GSA’s Design Excellence program, the new headquarters for ATF finds new ways to solve security issues and workplace integration in a pivotal Washington, D.C. neighborhood location. Public and private gardens are integrated through a protective arcade, visually opening the building to the city. A double wall glass façade evokes a civic, transparent identity for both the department and the neighborhood.

As the national headquarters for a government agency with the highest security requirements, the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives building balances protection and openness, becoming a catalyst for urban renewal and rejuvenation in the surrounding district. The building contains general office space, extensive training facilities, an auditorium and auxiliary services.

Notwithstanding security setback requirements, the complex engages and animates the surrounding street edges. The entrance is positioned across from a Metro station on the southeast corner. Retail facilities line 2nd Street to the east, and a trellised garden wall defines N Street to the south. A three-storey planted arcade crescent contains the site to the north and west, enclosing an internal garden and inconspicuously serving as a security barrier.

Auxiliary elements such as loading docks and an inspection booth are integrated into the overall fabric of buildings and garden walls. Maximum flexibility is achieved through the provision of a technical subfloor for the distribution of data and mechanical services. The office space consists of efficient floor plates surrounding a large atrium, thus affording daylight for all workspaces.

The double skin serves as a layer of blast protection, as well as a primary feature reducing energy usage. Features of the LEED Silver Certified project include the double wall glass façade, with a natural ventilated system as well as green roofs to reduce heat island effects.

Site Plan.

A three-story planted arcade crescent contains the site towards the north and west, encloses a 4,500-square-meter internal garden, and serves invisibly as a security barrier.

View to north-facing facade.