Portfolio: Hard Wired

The company that revolutionized use of the Internet is also redefining how and what we build. American Online (AOL) epitomizes building to meet the needs of today's tenants and owners.

AOL's Creative Center II is the second building on a 154-acre headquarters complex near Dulles Airport, Virginia. The 237,000-square-foot building contains four levels. It provides office space for AOL personnel plus conference space, an auditorium, and a cafeteria.

Concrete served a number of masters in Creative Center II: architectural expression, office infrastructure, and even corporate planning issues such as adaptability and exit strategy.

The designers chose architectural cast-in-place concrete for both interior and exterior finishes. Inside, the high-quality custom formwork created an architectural finish that eliminated the need for ceiling finishes and soffits, while creating a clean backdrop for an open ceiling look. Outside, exposed concrete beams and columns became a design feature.

Column-free, long-lease spans afforded an open floor plan for maximum flexibility in space planning. Clear, open spaces also allowed incorporation of natural sunlight from perimeter windows into the overall lighting scheme. For AOL, the concrete floor framing system achieved clear spans of 46 feet without vibration, a special concern as a neighbor of Dulles Airport.

Raised access flooring forms a space for data infrastructure, utilities, and even distribution of air for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This floor plenum is pressurized to deliver conditioned air through vents in the floor plates, eliminating ductwork for heating, ventilation,and air-conditioning (HVAC).

By providing easy access to cable, power, and air distribution, the floor plenum accommodates changes in office and workstation layouts. Combined with clear open spans available with a concrete frame, the system affords planning flexibility, air quality, and energy efficiency.

Outcome: Concrete
Successful building projects focus on results rather than tasks - product rather than process. All too often, selection of a structural system is relegated to a design and construction decision rather than a strategic business decision.

Yet it's a decision with consequences that last far beyond ribbon cutting. A concrete structural system produces better value and a smoother, shorter construction process - a better outcome of every turn:

  • Project schedule, from groundbreaking to occupancy
  • Budget concerns ranging from financing and cash flow to the cost per square foot of finished building space
  • Market appeal of the final product
  • Performance of the building and the risks to which it exposes the owner
  • Operations - tenant modifications, maintenance, and energy costs that accrue over the lifetime of a building

Building Better Outcomes is a proven approach that raises the level of expectations and focuses on results. Contact the Portland Cement Association or the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute and find out how concrete can help you build a better outcome.