One of the principal arguments employed by opponents of proposed changes to the 1910 Height of Buildings Act is made on aesthetic grounds: D.C. is an attractive city due to its low skyline, these critics say, and so allowing taller buildings will make the city uglier.
As it turns out, architects don’t agree.
At a Wednesday meeting of the National Capital Planning Commission, Mary Fitch, executive director of the D.C. chapter of the American Institute of Architects, testified in favor of the city’s proposed changes to the law, which would slightly raise the height maximum for buildings in the historic L’Enfant City and give D.C. and the Zoning Commission control over heights elsewhere in the city. The law, she says, restricts good architecture, and allowing taller buildings would “add visual interest to the skyline.”
Architect magazine published more details yesterday of the AIA’s objections to the current Height Act from an architectural standpoint. According to Architect, Fitch and AIA DC President David Haresign sent a letter last month expressing its concerns with the current Height Act to the National Capital Planning Commission, which along with D.C. is leading the study of revisions to the Height Act and has so far expressed reservations about meaningfully altering the law.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery