The Real Reason Washington D.C. Doesn’t Have Skyscrapers – Cheddar Explains

by birtanpublished on August 15, 2020

Washington DC has a unique look unlike other major US cities it doesn't have any skyscrapers you might have heard that no building can be taller than the Dome of the Capitol or that buildings must be lower than the heights of the Washington Monument but in

Reality maintaining a stocky skyline has been on the minds of architects and city planners since DC's origin and politicians have been fighting over whether or not to keep it that way since so what's with Washington skyscraper

Squabbles and why my DC's finally be considering raising the roof when the Capitol was established in 1790 the design of Washington DC was largely shaped by the ideas of two men Paris Charles L'Enfant and Thomas Jefferson

Both were keen on French architecture and essentially designed the city from the ground up on a large piece of land along the Potomac River city planner L'Enfant envisioned wider avenues a National Mall and exclusive landmarks

Akin to the layout of Versailles he want a building is constructed in crucial locations based on the elevation and shapes of waterways the plan was devised on the idea of equality as his idea for a National Mall would be open to

Everyone so while the plan was inspired by European models it was designed using American ideals Thomas Jefferson pictured buildings that were low and convenient similar to Paris he didn't want it to be based on a French monarchy

Like the Palace of Versailles symbolized instead he submitted a plan for a more modest federal town than L'enfance ambitious design while the plan went in the direction of L'Enfant vision Jefferson's idea for a horizontal

Skyline was still influential in the final construction in 1791 George Washington enacted the first building height restriction in order to provide for the extinguishment to fires and the openness and convenience of the town

Even though he worried that it might diminish importance of the capital city diets of American cities remained relatively uniform throughout much of the 1800s yet towards the end of the century cities

Like Chicago New York in Boston began a loosening restrictions and embracing technologies that allowed for a new type of building to emerge the skyscraper but DC did not take part in this initial building boom then in 1894 one architect

Named Thomas Franklin Schneider challenged these traditions when he designed a 14-story building when the Cairo apartment building was constructed it towered over the surrounding three-story row houses fewer than

240,000 people lived in the district at the time and most homes consisted of larger families which meant fewer residential properties were needed residents worried about the Kairos structural safety and whether

Firefighters would be able to get equipments to upper floors in case of an emergency in response to the concerns around the Kairos Heights DC paths at the height of buildings act in 1899 originally the law did in fact reference

The Capitol building which was 288 feet it stated that no other building could be taller that its height so why is in Washington DC filled with 28 storey buildings today that's because a law was amended in 1910 to restrict Heights even

More now no building could be more than 20 feet taller than the width of the streets in front of it this maximized buildings to a height of 130 feet or 13 stories the only exception was for buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue where

In extreme Heights of a hundred and 60 feet was permitted structures such as domes chimneys and penned houses over elevator shafts could also be higher but only subject to mayor approval this 1910 amendment to the height of buildings

Asked is still in effect to this day with only a couple minor exceptions this includes the commercial building one Franklin Square standing at 210 feet and the old post office at 350 feet but it was built before the limits

Were set yet DC is the only city in the US that still has a federal law regarding building height restrictions it can only be changed by an act of Congress and not by DC itself so while the laws original wording could explain

Why many believe the city's buildings are restricted based on the Capitals height that was only true for eleven years and it hasn't been the case for over a century but now the population has swelled to over seven hundred and

Two thousand people and many young professionals live downtown as opposed to large families these changes have called the height of buildings acts into question several businesses have been forced out of the downtown area and

Residential developments are dispersed and you'll notice the surrounding cities like Arlington are growing upwards over the years the law has been heavily debated among officials and residents DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson argues our

Skyline is a defining characteristic of our city we are different from any other city in the country Aaron Landry an advisory neighborhood commissioner state says there are tools the city could utilize to maintain the historic

Character we have historic districts we have zoning moving the height limit to what enable places that would be more acceptant of having taller buildings many opponents believe the restrictions

Are driving up rents and housing prices david Schleicher a professor of law yale university says i think that strategically increasing the height along commercial corridors will make more people happy with their housing

Units it would make office space cheaper and the cost would be relatively limited or zero martin molar head curator of the National Building Museum disagrees New York City and London have tremendous affordability problems and there are

Plenty of skyscrapers being built there suitors controversy the height of buildings to act has faced proposals for changed in 2014 the mayor of DC amended the law slightly to allow for mechanical penthouses to be turned into habitable

Spaces mechanical penthouses are the areas on scoffs that contains structures such as heating ducts or elevator shafts with a new change these areas were now allowed to become additional offices restaurants

Or apartments but only two was one story or less this didn't change the actual height of any building though instead of just allow for these industrial rooftop spaces to be more architectural II pleasing the act is currently in the

Middle of another potential change in 2019 DC's mayor Muriel Bowser made a proposal to expand affordable housing in the district she wanted 36,000 new housing units by 2025 the notice that the current tools in laws didn't make

This idea realistic and a recent revision of the city's comprehensive plan does leave some room for potentially increasing the height limit so while this provision might open up a revaluation of the height act for the

Mayor's vision Congress would still have to pass the legislation because it is a federal law but for now Washington DC will continue to remain a skyscraper list city or the foreseeable future so what are your thoughts on the height of

Buildings act should DC start building skyscrapers tell us in the comments below while you're already here be sure to LIKE and subscribe to our Channel and to go ahead and click on the notification Bell to be the first to

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