Major General George White Headquarters

Salem, Oregon

  • Services Protective Design
  • Market(s) Government, Military, Office
  • Sustainability LEED Gold (pending)
  • Awards Oregon's Excellence in Concrete Award
    Public Facility, 2020

    National Merit Award for Commercial/Office
    Design Build Institute of America, 2019


square feet



$26.4 M

construction cost
  • Owner Oregon Military Department (OMD)
  • Architect SERA Architects
  • Contractor Fortis Construction
  • Collaborators PAE Consulting Engineers
    Miller Consulting Engineers
    WH Pacific
    Professional Roofing Consultants
    Listen Acoustics
  • Team Protective Design Group, US
Major General George White Headquarters

The Oregon Military Department’s (OMD) mission for the new headquarters was to gather all statewide units under one roof, with the ability to transform from an administrative office to state command center in times of crisis. Strict requirements set by the agency included enhanced anti-terrorism measures, seismic essential facility requirements, strategic resiliency needs, as well as sustainability and design excellence goals. Importantly, the client wanted to provide a positive presence in the community.

Design Integration

The straightforward design of the Major General George White Headquarters (MGGW) is a direct response to OMD’s purposefully efficient, pragmatic approach to work. Working in an integrated design process with the design/build team, the project was delivered in response to prevalent site features, framing views and delivering two highly functional floor plates. A welcoming central lobby was created by ‘bending’ the monolithic rectilinear geometry into two wings that serve of the programmatic needs of each user groups. This lobby serves as symbolic “gathering place” for all Oregonians to come together in recognition of the service and sacrifice of men and women across the state.

Design for Well-being

Oregon landscapes provided the inspiration and framework behind the materials, geometries, and overall color palette of the building. Fluted metal panels mimic basalt columns found in the Cascadia region, and abstracted tree columns recall Oregon’s rich forest landscape. Natural light and framed views enhance occupants’ connection to the native meadows and grasslands that surround the facilities. The headquarters leverages biophilic design through visual connection to nature, dynamic and diffused light, biomorphic forms and materials, and complexity and order in configuration.

Designed for Change

Enhanced anti-terrorism measures – a significant requirement of this project – can often result in an opaque, unwelcoming structure. But with a park across the street, OMD wanted its building to convey transparency and trust, without necessarily inviting in the public. This was achieved with the use of discrete and natural security features, including siting the building adjacent to a tree-lined wetland, and building a stormwater/berm around the front of the building to prevents vehicles from circumventing the officer-controlled entry. With windows that meet the maximum dimensions per blast resistance requirements, the team was able to maximize views and daylighting while fostering a sense of transparency to the pubic – all without sacrificing safety.

Design for Discovery

In traditional military office environments, leadership enjoys enclosed, window-facing offices, while rank and file work away from daylight and access to views. Acknowledging that members of the National Guard spend most of their time in the community, accustomed to civilian-style offices, OMD was interested in experimenting with a modern workplace that could transform the way they operate and function.

MGGW democratizes access to light and views, and encourages deeper daylighting penetration, by placing glass-walled offices and shared amenities at the center of the floorplate. Flexible seating arrangements along the perimeter accommodate department growth and movement, because the military must be able to react quickly. This new approach improves collaboration, increases transparency and breaks down barriers between across ranks.

Major General George White Headquarters

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