In case you haven’t heard, SAIC recently disclosed it is moving its corporate headquarters to Northern Virginia. Responses to this announcement have generally fallen into one of two categories: (1) “What’s SAIC?” and (2) “I thought their headquarters was already here!” SAIC is Science Applications International Corporation, an influential technical services company that has grown rapidly in recent years. It was founded by J. Robert Beyster in Southern California 40 years ago with a mere three employees, but has now grown to 45,000 — mainly by providing scientific and analytic support to the federal government. Which is why moving the headquarters to Northern Virginia, where its sprawling Washington office is located, is long overdue. Now that the corporate headquarters is moving here, I have a suggestion.
The area where SAIC headquarters will be located, Tysons Corner, is not a pretty place. In fact, a recent book review in the British science magazine Nature referred to it as “”the largest accretion of medioce architecture and spies on the planet.” I live right over the hill from Tysons Corner in McLean, and I can tell you — it isn’t going to win any awards, either for architecture or community planning. Aside from the fact it has the best schools within a hundred miles, you’d never guess that it was in the richest county in America. Frankly, the area looks a little seedy, especially along its main arteries — like Leesburg Pike, where the SAIC complex is located.
Maybe SAIC could do itself and the community a favor by building a headquarters building worthy of the franchise it has carved out in the federal marketplace. The company could use some visibility — it isn’t very well branded for such an influential operation — and the address where it is located just happens to be the highest point in Fairfax County. So why not erect a structure that sends a message (or have somebody else erect it, and then rent enough space so SAIC gets to put its logo on top). Aren’t company execs tired of seeing those Northrop Grumman logos at every exit as they drive the Dulles access road into Tysons from the airport? Wouldn’t it be nice to see their own name displayed on a classy building that stands out from all the other eyesores in Tysons Corner? SAIC has arrived, so it needs a home that bespeaks its hard-won image as a global leader in science and high-end services!
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