The Percolator

McLean, VA


The Percolator is a coffee shop providing coffee drinks, smoothies, lite fare, and soft serve ice cream. The Percolator was designed as part of a strategy to provide a pedestrian Mainstreet connecting shared amenity space within a Research and Development campus with a highly academic, technical, and engineering focused community. The intent of this Mainstreet is to provide opportunities for chance encounters and the exchange of ideas amongst the campus occupants.

Early in the design process employees expressed the sentiment that they would prefer working at a coffee shop. The creation of coffee shops within corporate environments is not new, however the percolator and the concept for future Mainstreet spaces evolve this typology by creating spaces that are uniquely designed to be very different from the workplace environment, yet still provide collaboration and alternative work environments. Further, an entire brand identity was established for the percolator which is crafted to reflect the character of the creative, problem solving, research and development community that the percolator serves

The design disrupts the typical workplace environment by the use of richly textured, natural and reclaimed material. The walls are clad with reclaimed barn wood, furniture is crafted from salvaged wood from Baltimore rowhouses, and virtually all other components, light fixtures, and materials incorporate reclaimed and recycled materials. A custom fabricated tile wall with strong pattern and color provides a backdrop to the serving counter, and a small private room features brick-clad walls. The strong change of environment from the workplace provides a community space for the exchange of ideas, a space to mentally refocus and inspire alternative ways of approaching a project or task. The incorporation of these spaces and the strong brand identity inspire ownership, pride, creativity and collaboration. Discreetly located video displays allow for wireless connectivity to ease sharing and collaboration with colleagues

The Percolator “drop” logo serves as an identifiable representation of a drop of coffee and a metaphorical representation of each employee’s “contribution” to problem solving and innovation. The tip of the drop implies a “source.” Every idea comes from someone, and everyone in the community is a source of inspiration and change. The drop itself implies “contribution” and “accumulation.” As a series of drops fills a cup of coffee, a series of ideas and opinions fill a conversation. The overlapping diagonals represent “intersections” and “chance encounters,” characteristics of collaborative energy and trust.

Awards:  NAIOP Northern VA 2017 Best Retail Project, Award of Excellence