Census Bureau

Reconfigurable Office Space

The Project

Since the first tally in 1790, it has been the job of the U.S. Census Bureau to do the nation’s headcount and to act as the leading source of quality data about the country’s population and its surroundings. After recently turning its analysis inward, the bureau decided that it was time to provide a better environment for its own burgeoning staff with a state-of-the-art headquarters building that was capable of meeting several key challenges - chief among them was the need for a fully modular work space. The bureau’s suburban Washington, DC headquarters is home to 6,000 employees. A workforce of that size brings with it the typical concerns about office reconfiguration and churn rates, but the Census Bureau is even more unique in this regard. Every ten years as it gears up for its decennial survey, the number of workers that fills its halls and offices triples. The General Services Administration called for a facility design that would not
only absorb these periodic swells in the population, it also had to be on track to earn a LEED Silver rating. Moreover, GSA was looking for quality of life attributes that would aid the Census Bureau in attracting and retaining high caliber professionals.

From the visually striking presence of its brise soleil façade to the inclusion of onsite amenities such as a lending library, dining facility, medical office, and gymnasium, the new $331 million structure succeeds as an aesthetic “magnet” for attracting the best and the brightest. However, it is the use of raised access floors with underfloor air distribution which delivered on the promise of flexibility that was so critical to the project. A design utilizing Tate Access Floors now makes it possible to easily reconfigure office space for either routine office shuffling or when there is a huge influx of staff gearing up for the next survey. With wire and cable placed on the
sub-floor platform beneath raised access panels, distributing power and data to any number of locations throughout the room is simple and convenient. The addition of an underfloor air distribution system allows for the placement of individual air diffusers anywhere a new
workstation might be installed. The use of Tate Access Floors not only answered the call for a modular office design, it likewise contributed to the LEED points earned. Using raised access floors accomplished this by facilitating increased day lighting with the elimination of larger overhead space, improved indoor air quality through the use of an underfloor air distribution (UFAD), and through the use of recycled content in its cement-filled panels.

Panel Type:
ConCore 1000
Wood, Vinyl, Terrazzo, & Carpet
Access Floor Sq. Ft.:
1 million
Irvine Access Floors
Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill
General Contractor:
Skanska USA, Inc.
Engineering Firm:
Southland Industries, Inc.

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Census Bureau