The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

CEB to move headquarters to one of tallest office buildings in D.C. area

A rendering of CEB Tower, which the company plans to move into in 2018. (Courtesy JBG Cos.)

CEB on Monday announced that it will be moving its Arlington headquarters and 1,400 local employees to a mixed-used development atop the Rosslyn Metro station where it will be the marquee tenant in one of the tallest office buildings in the region.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) approved $9.5 million in funding to support the project as the state of North Carolina made an aggressive bid to get the company, which offers research on corporate strategy, to move to Charlotte. Arlington County put up another $4.5 million.

McAuliffe said he considered the project “a win all the way around” for Virginia, in large part because of CEB’s plan to add 800 new jobs in the commonwealth with an average salary of $122,000.

“Our keen interest in retaining CEB here was over 2,000 high-paid jobs,” McAuliffe said in an interview. “And we get a new global headquarters, which there will be synergies to bring in other businesses around this move.”

CEB will invest $149.7 million in the project, occupying 350,000 square feet across 15 floors in the JBG Cos. development at 1201 Wilson Blvd. Known as Central Place, it includes a 31-story office building, a 377-unit residential tower, a public observation deck, a plaza and ground-level retail. CEB’s offices will span the 8th through 20th floors and its conference center will occupy the 29th and 30th floor, a high perch that is likely to offer a sweeping view of the region.

The choice of location reflects CEB’s active push to build a more visible corporate brand. CEB’s logo will be featured prominently near the top of the office building, which is to be named CEB Tower.

The move, which is slated to take place in 2018, is part of a strategy to accommodate a growing workforce and to retool CEB’s workplace to be more conducive to collaboration and mobility.

“This is not your father’s workforce,” chief executive Thomas L. Monahan III said in an interview. “People really collaborate in new and exciting ways and need to have space that enables that.”

McAuliffe approved a $4.5 million grant for the project from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, a sum that is being matched by Arlington County. The project received another $5 million from the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant, a special program for what the commonwealth considers “exceptional economic development projects.” Previous recipients of this grant include Northrop Grumman, Hilton and Volkswagen of America.

“We’re always hopeful to attract more government projects, but, the current financing of the federal government budget is not as robust as it has been over the past 10 years,” said Martin Briley, president and chief executive of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. “So any time we have the opportunity for a non-federal government headquarters like this, it’s very high on our agenda.”

CEB plans to make it a priority to equip the new space with lounge-style seating that allows staffers to have a change of pace from traditional cubicle-style spaces. The company is also looking to use technology to make it more convenient for workers to team up in any space around the office instead of just in conference rooms.

CEB plans to incorporate employee feedback into its plans for the new, high-tech space.

“I don’t want to say we’re going to be corporate anthropologists, but in addition to engaging people in conversations, surveys, and the like, you also want to make sure you watch how people actually do work,” Monahan said. “What workarounds are they using in their current space that we can design for?”

As the company works on more detailed plans for its space, it will be counting on the research of its own real estate strategy team, known as the CEB Real Estate Leadership Council, which typically works to help other employers make decisions about how to most effectively utilize space. It will also draw upon lessons it has learned during recent refreshes of some of its 54 other global offices.

Monahan expects design and research work to get underway “immediately.”

“I’m an impatient guy,” Monahan said, “so I’ll be the kid in the backseat shouting, ‘Are we there yet?’”