Officials on Thursday presented a revised plan for the $300 million, 40-acre Intelligence Community Campus-Bethesda (ICC-B) at 4600 Sangamore Rd. that largely does away the huge existing surface parking lots in favor of landscaping that architects say will better hold rainwater and better fits into the surrounding forested area.
The new plans were met with widespread approval from nearby residents at a smaller community meeting in November. Before, many in the neighborhoods off Sangamore Road were unhappy with the potential for damage to trees around the facility, how the 3,000-person campus would affect the forest that backs up to the Potomac River and parking.
Thursday’s public presentation at a nearby school showed off architecture firm Leo A Daly’s design that includes new facades for the existing buildings, an L-shaped Centrum building to connect those structures, lots of glass and large swaths of grassy parks and bioretention areas to “create a foreground that is grounded in a much more natural setting,” architect Bill Baxley said.
The Defense Intelligence Agency is taking over the secure campus from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which moved to Virginia in 2011 as part of Base Realignment and Closure. The redesigned campus is expected to be complete in 2016.
The campus will include a defense university and officials said the new parking garage (already under construction) in the northwest corner of the property will have 1,800 spots. The agency also offers a shuttle service from the nearest Metro stop.
DIA officials don’t anticipate workers or students at the campus would park in neighborhoods or the shopping center across the street, as that would put them much farther away than the garage, which will be connected to the main buildings with a roughly 80-foot walkway.
A new entrance road also on the existing surface lots will have a security checkpoint deeper inside the property, thus preventing cars from queuing on Sangamore Road and moving any necessary car barriers farther from public view.
The garage is scheduled to be complete in July. Crews will start demolition of one of the campus buildings in April. In August, they plan to start foundation work on the Centrum building and in September, they plan to begin planting much of the landscaping on the north side of the campus.
Project designers are still working on a stormwater management outfall study. Officials said they’d like to repair some of the damage done to surrounding area that has been negatively affected by stormwater since the original campus was built in the 1940′s, before stormwater management restrictions.
Renderings via Army Corps of Engineers
Officials from the Defense Intelligence Agency recently presented potential designs for a Sangamore Road Intelligence Campus that better fit the architectural and landscaping characteristics of the area, according to some at a community meeting with the agency on Thursday afternoon.
The DIA is planning a $300 million, 40-acre campus at 4600 Sangamore Road, the former site of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The Geospatial-Intelligence Agency moved out last fall for Virginia, as part of the federally mandated Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program.
In the meantime, a number of residents expressed concern that plans for the expanded new campus (set for 3,000 workers in various intelligence capacities) would cause excessive damage to trees and the forested area around the facility.
Winnebago Road resident Harry Pfohl said the selection of D.C. architecture firm Leo A Daly, known for integrating development with surrounding greenspace, made everybody much more comfortable with the project.
“They presented some real ways to integrate the project with the National Park forestland behind it and to landscape the garage to provide for a more wooded, natural setting,” Pfohl said. “The concepts were unanimously enthusiastically received by the community leaders. That really says something.”
County planners had also requested the DIA pursue a similar path, but as is the case with projects at the National Institutes of Health and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, county government has little authority on the development of federal projects.
“County Planning was present at the meeting and County Planning was enthusiastic,” Pfohl said. “The end result should be a really nice place for people to work as well and a really nice fit for the neighborhood.”
Pfohl said he was impressed by the stormwater management plan and potential landscaping features like small ponds. He said the entire community group of seven or eight nearby community leaders walked away happy about the project after months of worrying about lost parkland, lost views of the Potomac River, more traffic and other issues.
“Everyone was grinning,” Pfohl said.
Requests for comment from the Defense Intelligence Agency were not returned as of Tuesday morning.