Every 10 years for the census taking, the U.S. Census Bureau’s staff headcount expands and then contracts by one-third. SOM’s award-winning design for the federal agency’s headquarters accommodates this fluctuation in a large office building that nevertheless maintains an open, elegant feel.
The complex consists of two long, low-slung curving volumes separated by a courtyard. Their narrow footprints ensure daylight penetrates throughout the interiors. A brise-soleil of wavy, white oak panels reduces solar glare and helps the structure blend into its wooded, 80-acre site in suburban Maryland. Paired with a water reclamation system and other sustainable features, the sunshades helped this project earn LEED® Gold certification.