Changes To Crystal City Skyline On The Way

by ARLnow.com February 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm 9,560 38 Comments

The first new building proposed under the Crystal City Sector Plan reached Arlington’s Site Plan Review Committee this week.

The gleaming 24-story office building, complete with a unique cantilevered roof, would replace what is now an older government office building that’s nearly vacant as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). Under the proposal currently under initial consideration, the existing building — 1851 S. Bell Street — would be torn down and the new building would be built and relabeled 1900 Crystal Drive.

At some 730,000 square feet, we’re told that 1900 Crystal Drive would be the largest private office building in Arlington County. Developer Vornado is hoping to achieve LEED Silver or Gold environmental certification for the building.

“We’re really excited that such a gorgeous building is [being proposed],” said Crystal City Business Improvement District President and CEO Angela Fox. “It’s a bold statement about where Crystal City is headed.”

(Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.)

Up the road, changes are in the works for another existing office building along Crystal Drive.

The building known as Jefferson Plaza One, which has also been affected by BRAC, is expected to be renovated starting this spring.

The building will be “re-skinned” with a largely glass exterior and will be relabeled 1400 Crystal Drive. Building owner Lowe Enterprises has scheduled a groundbreaking event for the project on March 29.

  • zzzzz

    That roof is awful.

  • Whoa

    Bad news for the Crystal City outdoor movie series, I guess

    • We’re told the central courtyard will remain for movies. Also, an interim park will be built for the Crystal City farmers market, which sets up in front of 1851 S. Bell Street.

    • Michael H.

      According to a 2008 proposal I read, the Center Park would actually be expanded from its current size. The existing building on the south side of the courtyard would be demolished, with no building to replace it. Instead, that area would be combined with the existing courtyard and enhanced to create a larger park.

  • CW

    Aw darn, the headline before the pics loaded had me hoping they were just gonna bulldoze the whole thing and start from scratch. Way to get my hopes up.

  • bird killing building

    let’s hope they use bird-safe glass. millions of birds die each year because of buildings with reflective glass.

    • JamesE

      I hope the county sets up checkpoints in search of developers using non bird-safe glass.

    • CW

      Or get KFC as a ground-floor tenant.

      • OldTimer

        BWW is right down the street. Fresh wings… pick your species.

    • Richard Cranium

      What about the bugs? I’ll bet just as many, if not more, of them suffer the same fate at the hands of the Evil Glass as do the beloved pooping pigeons!

      • Cromentator

        The bugs will be fine if they do Crossfit.

    • mickey644

      I’m hoping for more bird kills. Fresh wings go will with road kill beer and wine!

  • food

    Let’s hope the birds are used in soup kitchens to feed the homeless since Arlington is all about helping the homeless.

    • CW

      I am thinking that a mix of market rate and affordable bird dishes could be made.

      • Done and Done

        +60% (of market)

  • Tre

    at least its the vain birds that are dying

    • OldTimer

      LOL. Gonna lose playin’ chicken every time.

  • Bender

    An ugly building for an ugly neighborhood (which the County wants to replicate in too many areas).

    • Southeast Jerome

      this building will probably be the nicest looking office tower in Arlington, well except for big blue on the corner of glebe and fairfax of course.

      you people are so cynical. this thing looks so legit.

      • FrenchyB


        • Lee-n-Glebe

          Agreed, Also, its about time Crystal City started looking like its name rather than a bunch of Soviet-style, monolithic concrete blocks..

          • Ren

            I dig it…awesome building.

      • Tre


      • Michael H.

        The building across the street looks pretty sleek too: 220 Twentieth St. I believe that was “re-skinned” too.

        Some people just like to gripe. They complain that Clarendon looks too modern and Crystal City looks too much like a concrete fortress, etc.

        • Kelly S

          Michael H – I LIVE in 220 Twentieth St. And it IS a very lovely, modern, and high-end rental building…but now? With news of major demolition and construction that will literally happen DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET??!?! I’m SO OUT OF HERE.

  • Wilson-G.Mason

    Another in a long list of very UGLY buildings in Arlington!

  • bluemonter

    With BRAC realignment there are many empty office buildings. I hear the FBI is looking for a new home. I wonder why the county does not try and lure them over to the Crystal City area…You have a natural barier with the River on one side..

    • Michael H.

      I don’t think they would ever put the FBI in Crystal City. For a sensitive agency like that, which would be a target of many potential groups (domestic and foreign), they would want a location where the buildings are set back from public roads. There’s no way to do that in Crystal City unless they demolished multiple buildings and realigned the road network just for the FBI. Though there are long-term plans to realign some of the roads, it’s not to enhance security for future law enforcement or military buildings.

      They need to move the FBI out to a campus with a much larger buffer from public roads than the current downtown building has.

      • Burger

        Your first paragraph is exactly the reason.

        But, your second paragraph is not going to happen. The FBI has too much pull in Congress to be shuttled off to some outer Beltway. They’ll more than likely stay right where they are even though PG and Fairfax are acting like drunken prom queens trying to score the football captain.

  • CW

    I do sometimes wonder from the comments on new buildings what the architectural peanut gallery’s idea of a good-looking building would be. Can someone give an example of a good-looking, modern office, apartment, or condo building in their opinion?

    • Michael H.

      There isn’t one. There’s hardly a building in existence that would satisfy some of them. And even if we’re talking about an iconic building like the U.S. Capitol, if you built too many in that style, people would gripe that the neighborhood looked too old-fashioned, too unimaginative or something else.

      I always find it interesting to read that all of the intellectuals and know-it-alls in 19th-century Paris absolutely hated the Eiffel Tower. They thought it was a monstrosity and an eyesore and a pock upon the landscape of the city. Fast-forward today and you would hardly find anyone in the cultural intelligentsia and literati who would dare propose that the Eiffel Tower be torn down today.

      And so it is with all the architecture critics in the modern day, here and elsewhere.

      • CW

        Ok, thought so, thanks. Personally, I think this building looks pretty darn cool, with the covered green roof and all.

  • MC

    Nice to see 1) something taller that adds variety to the skyline in CC and 2) something with a different façade than the pressed concrete and brick norm.

  • CrystalMikey

    I can dig it.

  • ConstantCritic

    I love that changing an address is now called “relabeling”

  • pennylane

    I think the roof is cool. But I don’t want birds to get squished on the glass either. I was surprised when I saw “The City Dark” to hear it’s such a big problem — a billion birds hit buildings every year.

  • Charles

    Is this because the other buildings in Crystal City are all filled up? Or will this be another empty building? Developers shouldn’t be allowed to profit until their buildings are 80 percent rented out (to people unrelated to the developer). How about some responsibility for ever-more sprawl, County Board?

  • ceefer66

    This is great! A building that DOESN’T look like everthing else and isn’t the same height as everything around it.

    Just what need in this region – taller and more architecturally distinctive buildings. Hooray for the developer!


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