Tall Is Relative

The bright lights of Jersey City beckon.

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Steven Overly writes about the benefits of tall buildings and dense development for the Washington, D.C., area—benefits that he assures us are on the way. I think a little perspective is called for. Overly writes that “A staggering 390-foot building from Monday Propertiesi is already under construction in Rosslyn and will be the tallest office building in the Washington region when the dust settles.”

By contrast, there are 90 buildings in New York that are more than 700 feet tall. Jersey City has 14 buildings over 400 feet, Providence has two, and Harftford has four. There’s more to life than tall office buildings, but the point is that for a major northeastern metropolitan area featuring a substantial mass transit system and a considerable population of pedestrian commuters, the D.C. area is woefully undersupplied with tall structures. The fact that a 390-foot property can set records is a sign of the undersupply, not a sign of the undersupply vanishing. What’s more, while Rosslyn is a fine place for a big office building it’s no substitute for construction in the vicinity of the Gallery Place, Metro Center, or Farragut North/West Metro stations that give you maximum Metro access plus good bus routes plus pedestrian access to the rest of the central business district.