The FAA has deemed the proposed skyscraper in Seattle a hazard to “air navigation”. The agency has raised reservations about the 102-story tower saying it would be too tall.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notified its concerns about the proposed 102-story tower at Fourth Avenue and Columbia Street. According to the agency, the proposed skyscraper in downtown Seattle would be too tall and would pose a risk to aircraft flying overhead. Categorically mentioning that the tower could be a hazard to aircraft, the FAA sent a notice of “presumed hazard” to the developer,
“The structure is presumed to be a hazard to air navigation.”
Interestingly, it’s not just the height of the tower that’s a concern to the FAA. It appears the agency is equally worried about the “electromagnetic” interference the tower could create, indicated the notice,
“Initial findings of this study indicate that the structure as described exceeds obstruction standards and/or would have an adverse physical or electromagnetic interference effect upon navigable air space or air navigation facilities.”
If the tower would have been constructed with the current specifications, it would stand 1,117 feet above ground level. Though the height isn’t going to break any records, the skyscraper would have been the tallest building on the West Coast. The proposed Seattle skyscraper would be slightly taller than the 1,018-foot U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles, but would certainly tower over the 967-foot Columbia Center in Seattle, reported My North West.
The FAA is primarily concerned about the Seattle skyscraper’s proximity to the King County International Airport, popularly referred to as the Boeing Field. The airport sits just five miles south of downtown Seattle, Washington. Though it is a public airport, the airfield does regularly host the U.S. Navy’s jets. According to King County, which owns and operates the airport, Boeing Field is one of the busiest primary non-hub airports in the nation.
FAA is perhaps justified in worrying about the construction activities of the proposed skyscraper. Besides noting that such a tall building could disrupt operations by a crane of any size, the notice also stated that construction activity could also disrupt helicopters going to and from Harborview Medical Center:
“While the Harborview Medical Center may be able to accept the loss of their helicopter special instrument approach for a few months, a requirement for the crane to render the approach unusable for a longer period of time may be unacceptably detrimental to the hospital, and could further limit the height of the building if the crane would be required to be on site for an extended period of time.”
Fortunately for the developer, Miami-based Crescent Heights Inspirational Living, the FAA hasn’t proposed scrapping the skyscraper for the safety of the aircraft entirely. The agency suggested if the developer reduced the building to 965 feet tall, the proposal, would “not have a significant adverse impact and a favorable determination could subsequently be issued,” reported Puget Sound Business Journal.
The proposed Seattle skyscraper, which is temporarily called the 4/C, would offer a mix of residential as well as office space. The developer had also included two levels of retail shopping and four levels of above-grade parking, reported Komo News. On its behalf, Crescent Heights maintains that the FAA’s notice is part of a “standard, business-as-usual review process” and “all development projects are presumed to be hazards until determined otherwise.”
David Ketchum, Senior Planner Airports & Heliports for T-O Engineers brushed aside the reservations saying they were part of a negotiation process with the FAA. The agency does it for all tall buildings and the proposed skyscraper is no exception. “Most often these processes result in structure heights that meet developer needs while maintaining the integrity of our airspace system,” he said
It will be interesting to note that if the developer obliges with the FAA, the proposed Seattle skyscraper will no longer be the tallest building on the West Coast.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]