Officials at the General Services Administration currently are reviewing plans and should decide by this fall whether they will greatly expand the number of employees and buildings at the Food and Drug Administration campus at its White Oak facility.
If plans are approved, the work force is expected to rise from the current 11,000 to 18,000 employees, according to a GSA spokesperson. An additional 1.2 million gross square feet of office space will be constructed on the site, which is located off New Hampshire Avenue.
Although a decision is expected in the next few months, the addition will be done in stages and could take between 15 and 20 years, according to the spokesperson.
Additional office and work space as well as personnel are needed, following the U.S. Congress’s vote last summer to reauthorize the FDA to continue evaluating prescription drugs, medical devices, generic drugs, and biosimilar products, according to the spokesperson.
An environmental impact statement concerning the proposed plans will be released within 30 days.
The GSA is considering several alternatives to meet the FDA’s expanding needs, although one proposal is to leave the 130-acre FDA site as it currently is.
Another alternative includes construction of five new office buildings, each, at the most, 10 feet tall. Those buildings would not be visible from New Hampshire Avenue, according to the plans.
Yet another proposal calls for construction of four office buildings, each up to 20 feet tall. Those buildings would be noticeable from New Hampshire Avenue, Route 29, and the Beltway.
Both of those plans include three to four new parking garages, a communication center, and a conference center.
In yet another plan, two office towers, each 14 feet tall, would be built on the eastern end of the FDA campus, and several smaller buildings also will be constructed.
If the expansion is approved, some 18,000 people are expected to work onsite on most days. The White Oak facility already has 11,000 employees. Some of the new workers will be transferred to White Oak from their current FDA offices in leased spaces in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. The rest will be new hires.
Earlier this year, the public was asked to comment on the different plans as part of the environmental impact study.
The GSA received comments, but “there was not a general consensus,” according to the spokesperson.
The GSA is working with local planning agencies, civic associations, and the public to keep everyone informed, the spokesperson said.
The federal government acquired the White Oak property in 1944. The Department of the Defense first used the land for its Naval Surface Warfare Center.
In 1996, the GSA renamed it the Federal Research Center. The FDA was allocated a section, where the agency still remains.