Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Olivetti Headquarters Building

Fairfax, Virginia

1971

This office headquarters for Olivetti is on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., near U.S. 50, in a semi-urban industrial development strip offering little visual amenity. The diagonal slope of the site and its corner location determined the building’s site and orientation.

Three separate sales operations – local, regional, and national – are housed in the building, along with a service and spare parts division. Each operation is located on a separate level; the stepped levels are intended to express formally the hierarchical organization of the sales structure. A double-loaded corridor on each floor separates the zones of private and public spaces, dividing the fixed office spaces on one side from the larger, flexible, open spaces for administrative and clerical personnel on the other side. The vertical circulation, a stair and an elevator, is pulled to one end of the horizontal spine, and the separation is articulated by glazing in elevation.

On the other side of the vertical circulation and at the corner of the site, the office-building format is modified to accommodate a large, open display for computers and office machinery. At the joint where this curved display area meets the circulation elements are the two entries to the building. The main entry leading to the sales and administrative area is reached by way of a ramped exterior bridge on the south elevation, parallel to the road. The secondary entry that leads to the service area is reached by a driveway that takes advantage of the slope of the site. It is located on the north elevation at the lower ground level.

Although all the buildings for Olivetti were conceived as independent structures, they reflect common themes, like Olivetti’s products, and employ similar materials. Without being identical physically, they share a common spatial sensibility and provide the company with a recognizable and architectural identity.

Credits