A little taller
by Greg Simmons
Gazette Staff Writer
July 25, 2001
Discovery to add a floor, but tower won't be built
Silver Spring's largest single building project just got a little larger, adding room for more employees and pushing the skyline slightly higher.
Discovery Communications' building under construction at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road, will expand one more floor, bringing its total height to 10 stories along Colesville and seven stories along Georgia.
Discovery Senior Vice President Domenick Fioravanti said Discovery needed the extra room because the company's staff is expanding.
"This is a really nice permanent solution," Fioravanti, who is also the project manager.
Fioravanti said the new improvements will allow for about 250 more employees, and will add about 66,000 square feet of office space.
"Naturally, we're all in favor of Discovery's continuing expansion," said Gary Stith, director of the county's regional office in Silver Spring. Stith said the revitalization of Silver Spring, which consists of about $1 billion in public and private funds, will definitely benefit from more jobs in the area.
The county has been pushing business and housing developers to come to Silver Spring for more than five years. For instance, Discovery received a $10 million tax credit to relocate its worldwide headquarters within the county from its current Bethesda offices.
Also, as part of the plans approved last Thursday by the Montgomery County Planning Board, Discovery has scrapped its 300-foot aesthetic tower designs.
Last summer, representatives of the International Dark Sky Association, an astronomers club, began protesting the designs for Discovery's tower, which would have been 350 feet tall, shooting a beam of light into the sky.
At the time, Discovery officials said the light beam would not have affected the stargazing ability in the area, but they soon scaled back the design to a less prominent 300-foot lit crescent tower design.
"We're thrilled that the Discovery Communications office has decided against [an] overly bright tower," said Dark Sky president Robert Gent in a voice-mail message. "We're really pleased that they care about the beauty of the night sky and energy conservation."
Fioravanti said the decision, however, was purely administrative, and the previous designs wouldn't have caused serious problems with stargazing.
With the current plans, the remainder of the tower will be converted into one of the stairwells for the building, Fioravanti said.
Discovery, however, will keep plans for an art wall along Colesville, the taller of the two building sections.
Fioravanti said Discovery is looking for a new artist to complete the mural.