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Tysons Corner skyscraper will be regionís tallest

A proposed skyscraper in Tysons Corner will be 435 feet tall, making it the tallest in the DC region, and first to breach the 400 foot threshold. The building is proposed as part of the SAIC redevelopment, adjacent to the Silver Line's Greensboro Metro station.

SAIC Westpark. Image by FXFOWLE, published online by The Tysons Corner.

Traditionally, the tallest skyscrapers in the region have been in Rosslyn. But Rosslyn is in the flight path to National Airport, so buildings there can't rise higher than 400 feet. A bevy of development projects in Rosslyn, Alexandria, Tysons, and North Bethesda are in the 300-400 foot range, but this is the first serious proposal to crack 400 feet.

Outside the DC region, Maryland's tallest building is 528 feet, and Virginia's is 508 feet. Richmond's is 449 feet.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post


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A residential skyscraper will rise to slightly higher than 425 feet (penthouse included) at the northwest corner of Route 7 and 123, just south of Clydes. This will probably be under construction within a year or two due to the fact that it is residential.

by xtr657 on May 7, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

It's always surprised me a little that the tallest building in Virginia is down in Virginia Beach. I mean no disrespect to the Seven Cities, but you'd think there'd be more of an effort being made to bring it up this way, given the economic importance of northern Virginia. Any idea if there are any other taller-than-usual skyscrapers on the drawing board for this area, besides the two mentioned?

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on May 7, 2013 12:54 pm • linkreport

Funny that Tysons is developing this giant phallus at the same time local hero SAIC is being castrated.

by charlie on May 7, 2013 12:58 pm • linkreport

I hope it gets built.

I'm tired of all the boxy stumps poeple here call "towers".

by ceefer66 on May 7, 2013 1:04 pm • linkreport

Thanks for the shout out

@Charlie; SAIC is selling the property to Meridian (SAIC isn't a development, construction, or management company so it was never planning on building it themselves). Meridian however is more than capable, and considering the NOVA region is on fire as far as Multifamily and Office in Tysons, I think they should be pretty successful. Points taken though, it is ironic.

by Tysons Engineer on May 7, 2013 1:04 pm • linkreport

Speaking of boxy stumps, what's with those slabby residential towers at lower right, the uniform height along the front two blocks, and that looong block at lower left? Point towers on short blocks create more visual interest and more value, both in the skyline and on the ground, and since they're starting from scratch it won't cost that much more to build.

by Payton on May 7, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

No 3d rendering is complete without a green roof!

by Scoot on May 7, 2013 1:44 pm • linkreport

Good to see more skyscrapers coming to the region. Last week BF Saul released plans to build 4 300 ft towers in White Flint/North Bethesda.

by K Street on May 7, 2013 1:49 pm • linkreport

For anyone that wants the entire plan set (which includes more renderings and plan specifics) its available here;

by Tysons Engineer on May 7, 2013 1:58 pm • linkreport

Weirder still is the fact that Va. Beach's tallest isn't even on the waterfront. Hopefully it will soon be on the VB light rail line though.

by drumz on May 7, 2013 2:03 pm • linkreport

Baltimore really is part of the DC area and thus has 500+ft buildings in the DC area.

by Richard Bourne on May 7, 2013 2:21 pm • linkreport

If there was no height limitation in DC, I wonder how high the buildings would grow, based on market demand, at Metro Center, K Street, etc.?

by GDubber on May 7, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

I quite like the development. Great usage of a lot that's pretty much covered in parking. I like how they're also working on creating a street grid (well, curvier than a grid, but at least it's well connected) within the property that also connects to existing and future streets outside the property lines.

by ImThat1Guy on May 7, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

The curvy bit there is existing Greensboro Drive. It would be difficult to realign due to the presence of several million square feet of office (Monster, RedHat, Booz Allen) all have close frontage.

by Tysons Engineer on May 7, 2013 3:36 pm • linkreport

Greensboro is straight where the SAIC property has frontage. It's Center Street and Park Street (both of which would be new!) that are curved. Center has to curve at the south end, but as for Park and the rest of Center, it's unnecessary.

by ImThat1Guy on May 7, 2013 3:43 pm • linkreport

I'm looking at the plans found in the .pdf you linked above. But anyways I'm 99% certain the road in the rendering is Center.

by ImThat1Guy on May 7, 2013 3:44 pm • linkreport

I'm sorry you are right; Greensboro is on the far left. Center road is where the existing parking lot main access road is down the center of the very large surface parking lot. Yea I dont understand why that is curvy. Might have something to do with the Pinnacle Rezoning (over by clydes in order to attain a connection)

by Tysons Engineer on May 7, 2013 4:20 pm • linkreport

I believe this is from a Conceptual Development Plan, rather than a Final Development Plan. The developer may well build something of a similar or different height. In talking with developers, they quickly add they are proposing their vision today, but will build what meets market demand and the Comp Plan. It's definitely an interesting proposal.

by tmt on May 7, 2013 5:14 pm • linkreport

Eh, it looks like Ballston. I would have preferred another Clarendon. Oh well, as long as they don't muck up the traffic patterns around the mall too much, it doesn't really bother me.

by Chris S. on May 7, 2013 6:16 pm • linkreport

The most hideous (in my opionion) bldg in Tysons is shown shadowed in the lower left corner of the image: the ugly NADA concrete silo building. Now it's that building that needs to be "redeveloped."

by Transport. on May 7, 2013 6:41 pm • linkreport

Not sure what you mean by it looks like Ballston, you'd rather see Clarendon. I think I understand, theres a current phenomena in architectural criticism against any windows. I've noticed that many renderings look far more glass intensive than they eventually end up (I think this is due mostly to the renders more so than the architect).

Beyond the level of glass involved, I really see nothing similar between development in Ballston and the development pattern shown above. The landscape architecture concept is a complete reversal (large open civic plazas, roof tops used as park space).

I don't care either way, I didn't design it, and frankly I am not sure calling it Ballston like is an insult anyways, but I thought it could use an explanation considering the most striking element that differentiates Clarendon/Courthouse from Ballston in my mind is the usage of the lower levels of the buildings... something that is not able to be determined from this scale of rendering.

by tysons engineer on May 7, 2013 6:52 pm • linkreport

The only real difference between ballston and Clarendon are the uses. Clarendon is more fun while ballston is more work focused. That's changing though and ballston is adding a lot of retail and nightlife/restaurants open past 3pm.

To tie it to the development in question, the success won't be the height necessarily but what is on the ground floor and how that is designed. Anyway, I'd still take present ballston over present Tyson's.

by drumz on May 7, 2013 7:06 pm • linkreport

I often wonder how tall some of the federal buildings would be if they were vertical. The part of the energy building on Independence Ave. would easily be as high as the Washington monument. Or if all that space in the Ag. building were made vertical. That would be crazy high.

by Nickyp on May 7, 2013 8:36 pm • linkreport

I'm hoping some of the posts are meant to be satire. Celebrating a tall, but uninteresting building in a forest of mid-rise mediocre architecture isn't much of a party. Building taller just tends to accentuate the lack of good design in this area. Rosslyn, White Flint and Dulles are pretty good examples.

by Rich on May 7, 2013 11:43 pm • linkreport

Looks great! One good thing about China’s growth of instant cities is it has taught investors, developers, planners, and architects to think really big. That said, is the “instant” city we are creating in Tysons going to take 50 years to build out or are we really going to get this done now? I hope it is now.

by AndrewJ on May 8, 2013 5:54 am • linkreport

IMO, Ballston differs from Clarendon in a few key ways:
-- More mixed uses in Clarendon. Namely, more retail, and way more locally-owned retail.
-- More public open/green space in Clarendon.
-- A better mix of short/tall buildings in Clarendon, and very few tall buildings occupying whole blocks or exposing flat facades directly to the street.

I'm glad that Tyson's is urbanizing, but I'm a little worried that we seem to be following 1980s planning paradigms to build up the area.

by andrew on May 8, 2013 10:37 am • linkreport

The biggest difference between Ballston/V Sq. and Clarendon/Courthouse are the building heights.

The buildings in Clarendon look a lot like what you would see in downtown DC--short and squat, around 10-15 stories. Most of the (residential) buildings in Ballston are older 20-25 story high-rises. The office buildings, most of which were built in the past decade, are much shorter though.

Clarendon is basically a smaller, less wealthy version downtown Bethesda and is supposedly the exemplary mixed-use "hip" urban village complete with a lively, multi-cultural vibe.

Ballston otoh is more like Silver Spring: a long existing urban hub that's currently experiencing a renaissance. Both locations have seen high-rise construction boom (and rent skyrocket) over the past decade or so. Their respective dreary malls, Ballston Common and City Place, are also due for overhauls in the near future.

by K Street on May 8, 2013 12:54 pm • linkreport

It's still not the height. That's an obvious difference but it still comes down to the uses (or lack thereof) at the street level. Clarendon has a better mix of all sorts of things that keep the streets busy throughout the day while ballston was more 9-5. Though there is enough residential coming in to Ballston so that identity is changing.

by drumz on May 8, 2013 1:03 pm • linkreport

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