Washington DC Considers Modifying Height Limit On New Buildings

The 1910 law, responsible for preserving views of the capitol from most roof decks, is being challenged by a small group of architects and developers who believe a modest change would inject vitality, sustainability and revenue into the urban fabric.
November 6, 2010, 11am PDT | George Haugh
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Preservationists view any alteration to the height limit will only open the door to more development. "I don't think you get it - it's a very special place," said Ann Hargrove, a resident and ardent defender of the limit. "Our capital was designed in such a special way to be different. One great feature is its height." She admitted that new buildings do get boxy, but said profit-minded developers, if left unchecked, would destroy the graceful parts of Washington's skyline.

Shalom Baranes, a Washington-based architect who wrote two articles this year promoting changes, argued that a modest relaxation in areas outside downtown would allow for a more modern city with greener construction, what developers sometimes refer to as "smart growth."

Dorn C. McGrath Jr., professor emeritus of city and regional planning at George Washington University, and a supporter of the limit, recolonized the need to evolve, but said that just because developers called growth smart did not mean it was.

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Published on Wednesday, November 3, 2010 in The Herald Tribune
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