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A proposed new high-rise in Rosslyn, making a dramatic new skyline, and eliminating a frightfully ugly building… and right next to my Rosslyn hangout!

April 14, 2005, 12:40 AM

In the April 13, 2005 issue of the Washington Post, I found this article about a new high-rise proposed for Rosslyn. This high-rise is significant because it would rise to 484 feet, which is an unknown height for Rosslyn. Currently, the tallest towers in Rosslyn top out at around 300 feet. So this one would certainly be a head above the rest. The proposed location, based on artists’ conceptions, places the building right next to Rosslyn Center.

Here’s an artists’ conception as seen in Thursday’s Washington Post:

Proposed building in Rosslyn at 1812 North Moore Street

The large edifice in the center is the new proposed building. Then around it, the gray building in the lower left-hand corner is 1801 North Lynn Street, and the brown building immediately to the left of the proposed tower is Rosslyn Center.

The new building would eliminate what I consider a frightfully ugly building, which Rosslyn unfortunately has no short supply of. Such is the result when most of your high-rise construction occurs in the 1960s and 1970s. This is the building that would disappear should this new building be constructed:

Existing building at 1815 North Fort Myer Drive in Rosslyn

This photo is one of mine from April 12, 2003, and since then the building hasn’t changed much, except for making another two trips around the sun. Still, I consider it a bit ugly and unimaginative. It’s boxy. And it’s bright, shocking white.

The new building, based on the photos I’ve seen, will be greenish, and the facade will be all glass, which will be unusual for Rosslyn. Most Rosslyn high-rises have some sort of other material on the curtain wall as well. Plus, based on an illustration that went with the online version of the Washington Post article, it looks like it’s not going to be as tall as people make it sound. Additionally, if you add the Waterview, currently under construction, to the skyline, it de-emphasizes the new building’s height.

Another argument against this building’s height is that the proposed 484-foot tower rivals the 555-foot Washington Monument in height. I agree that the two are only 71 feet different in height. However, when you take all into consideration, I don’t think one will make that much of a difference on the other based on the fact that the two structures would be a considerable distance away from each other, plus the Washington Monument is built on a considerable rise, making it appear taller than the numbers let on. Check out this photo that I took last May on the National Mall:

The Washington Monument, with Rosslyn in the distance

Let me guide your eye for a moment. Start at the point of the Washington Monument. Follow that straight down to the ground. Now, look slightly right from the monument. See that low, bumpy-looking area to the right of the monument? That’s Rosslyn, with the 300-foot Rosslyn Twin Towers in plain view. I really don’t think that this new building will make that much of a difference in sight lines. Now maybe if we built the Empire State Building in Rosslyn, it would make a difference. But I don’t think that’s the case here. From DC, you honestly almost have to be looking for Rosslyn to find it.

Then there’s the FAA’s concern over flight paths into Washington National Airport. Airplanes flying into National do normally go right over Rosslyn. In fact, when I go to DC, my reading of the Express is occasionally interrupted by the roar of an airplane flying low overhead while making its approach. The concern by the FAA is about the building being a hazard for aircraft making their approaches. Now we certainly don’t want to see an airplane accidentally clip any building while making its descent, but I’d also hate to see this derail a revitalization in Rosslyn.

I think a poster on washingtonpost.com put it best:
It’s no more dangerous than the Washington Monument. All they need to do is light up the building and keep the planes over the river – like they do now.

All in all, I’m for this new development. I can’t wait to see the Waterview be completed in 2007, and this should be just as exciting if it is seen to completion. Anything that will make Rosslyn more exciting for pedestrians and perhaps even give it a nightlife is a good thing. Because let me tell you… at night, Rosslyn is like a ghost town. Most of the activity seems to center around the Metro station, with people catching buses after leaving the Metro station, or people heading into the Metro station after arriving by bus. Or people never leaving the station at all, remaining deep underground, using the station as a transfer point between Blue and Orange.

So I’ll be interested to see what comes out of this proposal. The new building is pretty impressive-looking, and I can’t say I’ll particularly miss the building it would replace. Urban planning really interests me, which was a byproduct of Mr. Sullivan’s State and Local Government class that I took at JMU in 2002.

Web site: "Close on the Horizon, Plans for Taller Rosslyn" article from the April 13, 2005 Washington Post

Song: Some oddball Dr. Seuss song

Quote: "That's definitely a tall building..."

Categories: Arlington