FAA signs off on HQ2’s helix building height

The Helix is part of Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington. (Courtesy Amazon)

The Federal Aviation Administration has determined that Amazon’s planned corkscrew-shaped Helix high-rise, part of its PenPlace phase of its HQ2 in Arlington, poses no threat to air traffic after a six-month review.

The 335-foot tall structure, planned for Amazon’s campus in Pentagon City, is years away from completion and remains under review by Arlington County in Virginia.



“The aeronautical study revealed that the structure would have no substantial adverse effect on the safe and efficient utilization of the navigable airspace by aircraft or on the operation of air navigation facilities. Therefore, it is hereby determined that the structure would not be a hazard to air navigation,” the FAA said in a letter to developer JBG Smith.

Conditions include required obstruction-marking red lights on the top of the building. It will be roughly one mile from Reagan National Airport.

If no petition is filed in opposition to the FAA’s ruling, it becomes final on Jan. 5, 2022.

The FAA’s letter said the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority did not object to the proposed building due to existing buildings in the area having greater impact. The Virginia Department of Aviation has also not objected to the building.

The 10.4 acre PenPlace campus, which won’t be completed until at least 2026, is along Army Navy Drive between South Fern Street and South Eads Street. The Helix would be the centerpiece of PenPlace, with a double helix design that includes outside terraces planted with trees with an exterior path winding up the sides of the building.

The Helix would also be open two times a month to the public, and would permanently host artists-in-residence.

PenPlace will include a total of 2.8 million square feet of office space, 115,000 square feet of retail space and 2.5 acres of open parks.

Construction is underway at nearby Metropolitan Park, the first phase of new HQ construction, which is expected to be completed in 2023.

Amazon already has thousands of HQ employees working in leased office buildings in Crystal City.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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