Perkins+Will Creates Stunning, Sustainable Headquarters for the U.S. Coast Guard

New Building Enriches Historic St. Elizabeth's Hospital West Campus

Sep 18, 2013, 07:00 ET from Perkins+Will

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The team of designers from global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will celebrated a long-awaited milestone on a special project earlier this month as the United States Coast Guard (USCG) began moving into its new headquarters on August 1. The new 1.3 million square foot building was designed by Perkins+Will, working closely with the U.S. government's General Services Administration (GSA). The headquarters is situated on the National Historic Landmark St. Elizabeths Hospital West Campus approximately three miles from the U.S. Capitol. Not only did this remarkable building preserve the historic site, it is expected to be certified LEED® Gold.

Perkins+Will has been working with the GSA for eight years, providing planning, architecture, interior architecture services for previously existing facilities as well as the new headquarters building. During this time, Perkins+Will designers developed a program of requirements for the new headquarters building, prepared a program development study for the site, and finally designed the headquarters building itself.

"At Perkins+Will we pride ourselves on our excellent listening skills and being able to translate clients' needs and wishes into a well-designed building," said Managing Principal, Aki Z. Knezevic AIA, LEED AP. "But we rarely see a project with as many challenging variables as the Coast Guard Headquarters. The national landmark site combined with the requirements of a facility like this one gave us more than one puzzle to solve along the way. We couldn't be happier about how well it came together."

A variety of sustainable strategies were used in the attempt for LEED Gold – certification is still in process – including maximizing natural light by positioning the building to catch the ideal amount of sun and creating a narrow building footprint. Sustainable design features for the project include energy efficient systems; expansive green roofs and green walls; rain gardens that dissipate storm energy and improve the water quality; and a water feature that supplies on-site irrigation needs. In order to ensure building functionality for the long term, and to meet the needs of the USCG now and in the future, the building incorporates maximum flexibility throughout. By providing a flexible infrastructure, clusters of offices or workstations can be relocated in a "plug-and-play" manner without disrupting neighboring areas. Demountable partitions and standardized furniture and lights help to make changing layouts relatively easy.

Sustainability goals dovetailed with the site's historic landmark requirements both in relating new facilities to appropriate scale and in repurposing and restoring six historic campus buildings. In order to meet the requirements and preserve the site's character, Perkins+Will designers had to minimize the bulk and height of the 1.3 million square foot main facility. They created an inspired solution of nestling many smaller buildings and courtyards into the slopes and ravines at the site perimeter. The six repurposed buildings now provide functional support spaces for the headquarters while still maintaining the integrity of each structure's historic appearance.

About Perkins+Will
Established in 1935, Perkins+Will is a global interdisciplinary architecture and design firm founded on the belief that design has the power to transform lives and enhance society. With a staff of 1,500 in 23 locations worldwide, the firm serves clients across a broad range of project types and grounds its work in deep research. Perkins+Will ranks among the world's top design firms and is the recipient of hundreds of awards. Social responsibility is fundamental to the firm's outlook, work, and culture, and every year Perkins+Will donates one percent of its design services to non-profit organizations. With pioneering tools to advance sustainable design practices, the largest green building portfolio in North America, nearly 1,000 LEED® Accredited Professionals, and a commitment to the 2030 Challenge, Perkins+Will is recognized as one of the industry's preeminent sustainable design firms. For more information, visit

SOURCE Perkins+Will