Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Lydia DePillis writes:
At the moment, Stanton/Eastbanc’s plans call for an office building on 7th and Pennsylvania that would rise to seven floors, or 88 feet. According to the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, that’s “simply too tall and too large to blend gracefully with its Capitol Hill neighbors.” The Eastern Market Metro Community Association agreed, insisting that the developers stick to a height limit of 60 feet, as endorsed by ANC 6B two years ago.
The staff of the Historic Preservation Office, however, wasn’t so worried. “Given the breadth of the wide avenue, the relative hierarchical importance of this building in the totality of the project, and the site’s frontage on a L’Enfant square and adjacency to a Metro station, additional height in this location is not inappropriate provided that the building is otherwise designed to ‘enhance the character of the district and respect its context,’” reviewers wrote, recommending only mild setbacks on the top of the building.
Clearly what this debate needs is an anchor on the other side. An unreasonable extremist.
So here goes. As a resident of the District of Columbia, I would like to maximize the property tax revenues generated by the Hines site. Therefore, I think the building should be however tall the developer thinks it can be made profitably. As a resident of the District of Columbia, I would like to maximize the volume of employment in DC generated by the Hines site. Therefore, I think the building should be however tall the developer thinks it can be made. As a resident of the Planet Earth, I would like to maximize the quantity of economic activity located near heavy rail mass transit nodes. Therefore, I think the building should be however tall the developer thinks it can be made.
From an aesthetic point of view, I think the older historic buildings that surround the neighborhood would look really cool juxtaposed with a big-ass modern skyscraper. The idea that you maximize the beauty of a historic neighborhood by insisting on absolute uniformity is inane. Look at the Dancing House in Prague.