To design the new United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Training Facility in Arlington, Virginia, DBI tackled the task of situating an educational training center in the middle of a high-rise office building.  A code analysis challenge, training centers have a much higher occupancy load than that of the typical office spaces for which a building is usually designed.  After hours of code interpretation and number-crunching, DBI’s team added a two-hour–rated fire assembly, which separates the sixth floor in halves in the event of an emergency; expanded the women’s plumbing fixture count; and held three meetings with Arlington County—and, then, successfully obtained a permit for construction.

The 42,306-SF facility occupies the building’s sixth floor, where USAID personnel attend educational and continued learning programs, as well as a small suite on the fifth floor for business support functions.  DBI created flexible spaces to accommodate the daily variations in USAID’s training schedule and courses, which include e-Learning classes; Foreign Service Training and Development courses, such as Food for Peace, Economics, Global Health, and Stabilization and Governance; Project Management Training; and Environment and Natural Resource Management.

While conquering the code issues inherent in such a high-occupancy space, DBI successfully incorporated sleek and functional design elements into the project, juxtaposing warm woods and cool stainless steel to create a calm atmosphere conducive to learning.  To help the client envision DBI’s design intent, we developed extensive three-dimensional renderings in 3D Max—a tool of immense importance in conveying conceptual designs quickly and in great detail, thereby increasing our team’s productivity and facilitating better-informed decisions by our clients.  The finished space, a beautiful and sophisticated culmination of the design team’s efforts, was applauded by John P. Peevey, Director of Office of Management Services at USAID:

USAID/Washington’s new training center in Crystal City—the Washington Learning Center—has taken the Agency to a new level in the provision of training to Washington and overseas staff.

Among other things, the sheer beauty of the facility…combined with outstanding location and panoramas of natural light have elicited superlatives such as “fantastic,” “spectacular,” “beautiful,” and many other similarly effusive adjectives.  Without a shadow of doubt, the design of the space is one reason for the accolades.  It truly is spectacular—from the sleek, contemporary reception to the beautifully appointed training rooms, to the awesome Tech Café and adjoining hoteling space.  For this we have DBI to thank—most especially architect extraordinaire, Marcy Trepke.  We could not have hoped for a more beautiful yet fully functional space.  Fantastic job, DBI!

Led by Senior Manager Marcy Trepke, IIDA, LEED AP, DBI’s design team included Jack Bajadek (Building Code Administrator), Mandy Harshman, LEED AP (Designer & LEED Administrator), Ebong Ukor (Designer), Kinga Rusiniak (Designer), and Masha Casey (Designer).  In addition to DBI, the project team had a large cast with representatives from USAID, GSA, Vornado Charles E. Smith, Commercial Real Estate Advisors, HITT Contracting, and engineers Greenman-Pedersen, Inc.