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The District of Short Buildings

One of the most pathetic aspects of life in the District of Columbia is that you actually have to live in the shadows of taller buildings in the suburbs. Lydia DePillis observes that it’s happening again in Wheaton:

While reading about the new Safeway-anchored residential development just approved in Wheaton, all I could think was: Why can’t we get these kinds of buildings in the District? It’s a 17-story, 486-unit, 195-foot-tall apartment complex that will add density and vibrance to the suburb’s delightfully diverse and quirky town center. But it won’t look like the superblocks that proliferate within the D.C. diamond, which are the way they are because developers must ask their architects to pack as much square footage under the 130-foot height limit as possible to make the deal work financially. Since Wheaton is not bound by such restrictions, this development can achieve a kind of light, airy quality with towers on each corner and quite a bit of open space in the middle of the block. That also creates higher-quality living spaces for apartment dwellers, many more of whom will be able to have natural light.

Exactly, exactly. The Height Act is bad aesthetically, it’s ecologically destructive, and in economic terms it’s hugely costly for DC residents. Time for a change!

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