Friday, March 07, 2008

160 Feet High And Rising

I've never understood why so many DC residents mourn the lack of skyscrapers, let alone allow themselves to become "frustrated" over it. But many do, just because they feel like without them, the city can't impress people. That seems odd to me. Why is it important for this place to look like every other place? Maybe if we got more hot air balloons or more streetside haggis vendors, we'd be laying claim to something unique.

But, still, best to defer to those who know more about the topic than I do. So if you want to hear the Sensible Case For The Rosslynization of DC - here's Ryan and here's Matt. They cut a course toward a future where our sons and daughters might one day sit in cubicles and be connected to printer hubs that are sixty...perhaps even eighty!...feet higher in the air than the ones we enjoy now.


ryan said...

Would you add 80 feet to the building heights in Washington if you knew that doing so would give the city an addition $20 to $30 billion over 20 years?

It's the opportunity costs of not raising the height limit that irk.

Tom said...

Well, I don't think anyone except transplanted New Yorkers are really all that anxious to install concrete canyons, where life is conducted in perpetual shade and the wind never stops blowing.

But! Consider the possibilities opened up by providing more space. Suddenly the available real estate isn't being fought over solely by rich companies willing to pay exorbitant prices for DC headquarters. Maybe you can put in some housing so that suburban commuters can move inward; maybe affordable restaurants open with hours that extend beyond weekday lunchtime; maybe the tax base expands and city cervices improve; maybe retail arrives and we stop treating the arrival of Bed Bad & Beyond like the debut of a new opera hall; maybe a place like the Warehouse is able to find a lease *somewhere* within the city; maybe we start being able to order delivery food after fucking midnight, a fucking citywide embarrassment for which Mayor fucking Fenty should be apologizing at every goddamn public appearance. Maybe, in short, we start acting like a real city.

Phew. Anyway, Ryan's implicitly promised me all this stuff and I plan to hold him to it.

Michael said...

Adding skyscrapers to DC won't magically make all those things (which, frankly, even as a severe night owl and cheap bastard I don't miss all that terribly) appear in our midst.

Adding skyscrapers would worsen traffic, add pollution, and take away much of the city's beauty (sorry New Yorkers, but the sky is prettier than the prettiest cement ans steel monolith).

As for real estate costs, well, look how effectively skyscrapers have lowed rents in New York.

LaVorn said...

I have wished for most of my life that DC had taller buildings. They don't have to be as tall as the empire state building or sears tower. I went to San Francisco a few months ago and fell in love with the architecture of its downtown. Not all of the buildings were giant steel monsters. It was a terrific mix of victorian and modern building. The height of the buildings in Rossalyn are tall enough to give space for office and residents, as well as, room for architectural experimenting and design. Building upp would free space for badly needed downtown parks and even naighborhood parks.