Friends of Urban Agriculture participated in Arlington County’s Park Master Plan 6 month process for Amazon’s HQ2 at Metropolitan Park in National Landing (beginning February 20, 2020) with the goal of integrating our urban ag concepts into the final selected design. The site is expected to be completed in 2023. (See the County’s website: https://projects.arlingtonva.us/projects/metropolitan-park-public-space-project/). The Metropolitan Park site will offer approximately two acres of publicly available space for neighborhood residents, visitors, and Amazon employees to enjoy. We saw this as a unique opportunity to cultivate urban agriculture features at what will assuredly be a transformative space for Arlington. Additionally, this was a chance to influence Arlington and Amazon’s commitment to biophilic, urban landscape design.
On September 12, 2020, the Arlington County Board adopted a park master plan and design guidelines for the expansion and transformation of Metropolitan Park. The 2.47-acre public park will create an urban oasis on the site of Amazon’s east coast headquarters. Amazon agreed as part of its community benefits package for its headquarters site plan to provide the $14 million needed for the renovation, and to maintain the park in perpetuity. The headquarters and park are expected to open in 2023.
Included in the plan is a “Community Table & Edible Garden (approx. 2,300 sq. ft.): At the northwestern corner of the site, large social tables are situated within an edible garden. This place is envisioned as a hub of community gathering, for meals and celebrations. Regionally appropriate, adaptive edible species incorporated in the surrounding garden.”
This is great news! Urban Ag is now formally incorporated into Amazon’s HQ2. And not just as an afterthought but as a featured amenity. HQ2 will be a very public and a destination/tourist focused place. This will be a chance to put Urban Ag at the forefront of the national conversation. This is a once in a generation chance that won’t come again!
Met Park At-A-Glance
We proposed the following 5 functional design concepts:
- Beautiful Biophilia: We champion the confluence of aesthetics and functional design. Urban agriculture features should seamlessly complement the surrounding built and greenway environs, creating a focal point of art, culture, nature in public gathering spaces.
- Sustainable Production: We envision sustainable growing practices that include, but are not limited to, ecologically-friendly materials, locally-sourced growing media, regionally appropriate plants, non-invasive pest mitigation strategies, and stormwater catchment to supplement active irrigation.
- Maximize the Margins: In addition to a centralized growing site, Metropolitan Park offers novel opportunities to leverage both the common and peripheral spaces: tree canopies brimming with apples, peaches, pears, and figs offer food and shade to the linear parks and sidewalks; uniquely curated vining crops augment the shapes and textures of installed public art works.
- Common Ground: Agricultural installations will incorporate the rich history and culture of Arlington and Washington, D.C. These sites will offer visitors, residents, and employees a unique perspective of how urban agriculture enhances Arlington’s sense of place and community.
- Learning Laboratory: With an education-forward approach, the growing sites will invoke curiosity to experience agriculture and offer students – of all ages – the opportunity to expand their knowledge, and experiment with novel growing techniques in a changing climate.
About Met Park:
- Phasing: 1st of 2 Amazon Campuses (second site will be Pentagon City’s PenPlace: TBD)
- Size: Approximately 2.5 acres of public space
- Note: FOUA is advocating for a small portion to be allocated for UrbanAg use
- Timeline: Site construction to start 2020 through Summer 2023
- Ownership: Park will be owned and maintained by Amazon with the intent of open, public use
- Budget: Amazon will pay for park’s design and build costs, and will fund all operating & maintenance costs
- Landscape Architect: James Corner Field Operations