Amazon’s Helix in HQ2 Cleared to Fly

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The Federal Aviation Administration has deemed the height of Amazon’s planned tower, The Helix, at HQ2 to be acceptable, according to the Washington Business Journal.

In February, the e-commerce giant first unveiled its plans for The Helix, a 355-foot building that would feature two spiraling outdoor walkways with trees and plants from Virginia that twist to the building’s peak. It is part of PenPlace, the second phase of Amazon’s $2.5 billion HQ2 in Arlington, Va., which included the design. 

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“The Helix will include a hill climb that allows people to traverse the entire height of the building and a variety of spaces for individual and team work or relaxation,” Adam Sedo, an Amazon spokesperson, said on a media call when announcing the project in February. “Designed to reflect a shape commonly found in nature, The Helix will be open to the public select weekends every month.” 

But in May, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority examined the plans and determined that The Helix exceeded the FAA’s height standards near Reagan National Airport by 13 feet.

“Our proposed design for PenPlace is now in its review phase, and we look forward to continue working with the FAA on our application,” Amazon said in a prepared statement at the time.

The FAA conducted a months-long study and determined the building would not be a hazard.

“The cumulative impact of the proposed structure, when combined with other proposed and existing structures, is not considered to be significant,” the FAA wrote in a letter to Amazon’s design team. “Study did not disclose any adverse effects on existing or proposed public-use or military airports or navigational facilities, nor does the proposal affect the capacity of any known existing or planned public-use or military airport.”  

One caveat to the FAA’s ruling was that Amazon must include red lighting, the WBJ reported.

The Helix, along with the entirety of the 10.4-acre PenPlace, is currently under review by Arlington’s site plan review committee. It is currently scheduled to open in 2026.

Requests for comment from Amazon and the FAA were not immediately returned. 

Keith Loria can be reached at Kloria@commercialobserver.com.