U.S. Census Bureau Headquarters – Interiors

Due to the nature of the U.S. Census Bureau's work, designing its new headquarters presented an unusual challenge. Because the staff temporarily swells every 10 years during the census-taking process, workspaces needed to accommodate cyclical expansion and contraction. In response, SOM conceived an open plan in the spirit of a vibrant office urbanism, with flexible neighborhoods of employees stacked vertically and connected by stairs and two-story common areas containing pantries and meeting areas.

After studying top corporate workplace designs, SOM clustered amenities such as a library, gymnasium, credit union, and medical facilities around an underground street that ties the complex together. The open offices that rise above this subterranean “city” stand in contrast to traditional government facilities, which often contain long, drab corridors.

The interior core is marked with a bright color spectrum to enliven the space and help with wayfinding. Individual workspaces are natural-hued and daylit and feature personal climate controls. With eco-minded features such as sustainable interior finishes and narrow floorplates that maximize daylight penetration, the facility meets LEED® Silver standards.