The layout of the proposed pop-up lab for the FBI's current headquarters at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice Project Management Office The layout of the proposed pop-up lab for the FBI's current headquarters at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C.

The FBI is planning to move operations from its headquarters at the Brutalist J. Edgar Hoover Building by Charles F. Murphy and Associates in Washington, D.C.,  and satellite offices in the area to a facility of up to 2.1 million square feet at one of three shortlisted suburban sites in either Maryland or Virginia. The agency's new home is expected to host approximately 11,000 employees, reaching full occupancy by 2022.

As part of the process, the U.S. Department of Justice is rethinking how its employees work and the spaces that best suit their needs now and in the future. Based on a request for information (RFI) issued last week, the layout of its new headquarters will likely favor collaborative and open zones rather than rows of cubicles. The effort is no small task for the behemoth agency that has been in its current home since 1975, particularly as a recent effort by the National Science Foundation to open up its own plan was met with resistance from its union workers and ultimately resulted in less collaborative space and bigger cubicles, the Washington Business Journal reports.

The FBI has been upfront about its need—albeit a contentious one—for a more contemporary workplace from the start. The agency is now seeking office furniture and fixtures for its employees to test in a 2,800-square-foot pop-up lab that it plans to build in its existing headquarters.

From the RFI: “In support of this project, the FBI is exploring how the workplace will function and evolve in the 21st century and how its employees will work, interact, and collaborate in the office environment of the new FBI HQ. Changes in information technology, employee demographics, and corporate culture will dramatically alter expectations and uses of FBI workspaces in the coming decade. The FBI seeks to anticipate this transformation to design workspaces that support improved mission execution from day one of occupancy in the new FBI HQ.”

The bureau’s wish list, illustrated in the diagram above, includes furnishings for open spaces to accommodate informal meetings as well as for areas dedicated to private, focused work. A re-configurable conference room is shown, as are breakout rooms. Also important, the RFI notes, is lighting specific to workspace type and furniture that can be reconfigured as program needs change.

Vendors must cover all costs associated with featuring their furniture at the FBI's new showroom, which will display the products simultaneously and on a rotating basis in the lab for up to six months. The agency will begin construction on the showroom in early 2015, with the deadline to submit responses as Feb. 19, 2016.