Amazon's HQ2 center piece 'The Helix' exceeds FAA's maximum allowed height, Airports Authority says

A group that oversees two of the Washington, D.C. area's major airports says that the proposed center piece of Amazon's HQ2 project in Arlington, Virginia exceeds Federal Aviation Administration height limits.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

"In evaluating the application for Pen Place structures, engineers with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority noted that the proposed height of The Helix building exceeded the FAA's maximum allowed height for flight procedures at Reagan National Airport by 13 feet, which was reported to the FAA and Arlington County, as is required by regulation," said the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority in a statement to FOX 5. "The Airports Authority welcomes Amazon's new headquarters and is committed to assisting the parties with this issue."

The MWAA says the FAA tasks individual airports with monitoring proposed construction building heights to ensure they are compatible with the local airspace.


Courtesy: NBBJ

Amazon responded with a statement to FOX 5 saying: "Our proposed design for Pen Place is now in its review phase and we look forward to continue working with the FAA on our application." Amazon says that they submitted their proposed design for Pen Place -- the second phase of HQ2 -- in February 2021 and that it is not a final design and is subject to review. Amazon added that they believe the current design is in line with the FAA regulations and that they will wait for the FAA's final say in the matter – not the MWAA. Amazon also said the MWAA expressed concerns about the height of their Metropolitan Park structure that was ultimately approved by the FAA.

When asked for comment, the FAA referred FOX 5 to it's webpage on Obstruction Evaluation and issued a background statement that reads:

"Exceeding one of the Obstruction Standards of Part 77 is not a "restriction" and is only an indicator that further study is needed by the FAA Obstruction Evaluation Group to determine the full extent of adverse effect (if any) on aviation."

Amazon's HQ2 facility is projected to employ more than 25,000 people, with an average salary of over $150,000.

The space – which will rebrand Crystal City as National Landing – is expected to include 2.8 million square feet of office space in three buildings, as well as 2.5 acres of open public space and connected walkways.

The so-called "Helix" – a spiraling structure that rises 22 stories, will be the center piece of the campus and will be the tallest building on the site.

Sketches show trees and green space spiraling along the exterior of the building, which in addition to a helix also resembles a Christmas tree or a soft-serve ice cream cone.

The company hopes to begin construction in 2022, and complete it in 2025.