DARPA Headquarters Grand Opening
Seven years of local, state and federal collaboration keeps DARPA in Arlington
New DARPA Building
(L-R) Ken Gabriel, DARPA,
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA.), Desa
Sealy, GSA, John Shooshan,
The Shooshan Company
It was Friday morning, May 13, 2005. As staff from Arlington Economic Development anticipated the release of the initial Department of Defense (DoD) recommendations for base closings and realignments, preparations were already underway for Arlington’s response. Previous BRAC rounds had affected Arlington, and 2005 would surely be no different. However, as staff began reading page after page of the report, they quickly realized the severity of the situation at hand. When the totals were finally calculated, Arlington stood to lose nearly 4 million square feet of office space, including every single one of its Extramural Research Agencies. No other location – state, city or county – in the entire United States would face a greater loss than Arlington. It was a serious situation indeed. But could it be manageable?
Leadership across the region sprang into action. Local, state and federal representatives collaborated to identify the key agencies that must be kept in Arlington, including DARPA, the Office Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, collectively known as the Extramural Research Agencies. These high-value, key research agencies were responsible for millions of dollars of economic activity that drove the private sector and benefited both Arlington and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Their collective loss could create serious consequences for Arlington’s economy, and leadership faced an uphill battle to remove them from the DoD’s BRAC list. In addition, one of the most valuable of the research agencies, DARPA, was also in need of a new headquarters. Altogether, the task seemed nearly impossible.
Seven years and one week later, on May 22, 2012, DARPA did indeed move – down the block – to its beautiful new, state of the art headquarters, located securely in Arlington. Thanks to an unprecedented collaboration of local, state and federal leadership that spanned the terms of three Virginia Governors, an impossible success – saving the Extramural Research agencies – had inevitably been accomplished. DARPA’s new headquarters, developed on a former brownfield site, just steps away from the National Science Foundation, was constructed to meet LEED Silver requirements and DoD’s minimum anti-terrorism force protection standards. And most importantly, it was accomplished in an urban setting that was in keeping with Arlington’s development goals for the community. It was not only a success in itself, but it would be a model for the future.
The headquarters grand opening was especially significant for AED Director Terry Holzheimer, who had sat at his desk seven years ago and read through the initial recommendations. “We knew early on that the situation was serious, but manageable. But when you considered the battle we faced to not only save the Extramural Research Agencies, but to find a new headquarters for DARPA that would provide them the secure environment they needed, well, the task seemed practically impossible. We learned an important phrase from DARPA that we think holds true for Arlington: convert the impossible to the improbable and make it inevitable. So we took a situation that seemed impossible and we’ve made success inevitable. I can’t underestimate the importance of the seven years of collaboration this success required. But we’re pretty proud of the role we played.”
To learn how Arlington can help you convert the impossible to the improbable and make it inevitable, visit www.arlingtonvirginiausa.com.
To view a short video of the headquarters grand opening, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upKws9gQ4gE.