Institute for Defense Analyses Headquarters
Project category
Science & Technology,
Project market
Project location
Potomac Yard, Virginia
Date of completion
Institute for Defense Analyses,
MRP Realty
Art as Mission-Critical

This project redefines the high-security workplace. Mitigating the pressures of closed spaces, introducing art, natural light, natural environments, and a sense of community, this design make our defenders more effective and our nation more secure.

Gwen Marcus Wright, Former Chief of the Development Division for the City of Alexandria Current Planning Director, Montgomery Planning Department

“The design for IDA Headquarters in Potomac Yard fulfills the vision of a landmark office building that anchors this new community. While meeting the client’s need for security, the project successfully embraces the new street grid and the new plaza by orienting the main lobby and cafeteria to these more public elements and placing other secondary secure entrances in less prominent locations.”

About the Project

After many years of master planning, the collaborative vision of IDA’s new headquarters became a reality at the burgeoning Potomac Yards. 

Security features were top of mind due to the nature of the work that IDA does—yet the team of KGD found ways to fortify the property  without it looking like a fortress. The attractive glass frontage lets plenty of natural light shine in to create luminous collaborative spaces that are forever flexible. Ample views of ground-level secured greenspaces bring in nature. 

Green roofs above the conference center provide staff and visitors with outdoor areas to connect with nature. The fitness center on the upper floors opens out to an internal courtyard with views of Washington DC’s skyline and monuments. IDA’s campus anchors a newly developed mixed-use neighborhood. A new Metro station, still under construction, will make commuting to the Pentagon convenient. 


Because IDA is a federally-funded organization and military budgets fluctuate, they wanted to have workspace that could be leased to another organization—yet keep building security intact. KDG designed a two-building solution, one of which can be leased out when prudent; an enclosed bridge connects both buildings. Construction was well underway when the COVID-19 Pandemic occurred—giving rise to an HVAC pivot that included enhanced filtration with UVGI to reduce the spread of infectious diseases to safeguard the health of the staff, so IDA’s headquarters stays operational under hazardous conditions. 

This new headquarters is a complex that proves that a secure and safe facility can also offer serenity to the people who work in the building, day in and day out.


The sightline to the Pentagon from the site informs the angles of the HQ building. This divergence from the block grid allows greater views to the public park to the south. At ground level the line of the street is maintained.

Art galleries and art installations allow the public visual access. Connections to science and art are embedded throughout the workplace. Integrated natural materials, patterns, shapes, and colors are found throughout.


The mission of IDA in binary code is reflected in the perforated panels screening the garage, while the mathematical patterns of the auditorium and light spirals of infinity in the open stairwells tie with the scientific and analytical expertise of IDA’s research staff, celebrating the mission of the company. Morse code is used in the carpet to provide layers of meaning.

Our team
Project Leadership
Manoj Dalaya Principal & Co-President Manoj Dalaya
Kevin Pennington Associate & Senior Project Architect Kevin Pennington
Marium Rahman Associate & Architect Marium Rahman

“IDA now has all of our Virginia staff housed in a single facility in a more productive environment. Staff and management could not be happier with the final design and looks forward to many years of occupancy.”

Dean Graves, Former Treasurer and Director of Finance, Institute for Defense Analyses