For most of the past 3 decades, the tallest skyscraper in Montgomery County has been Gaithersburg’s 275 foot tall Washingtonian Tower. Earlier this year, Washingtonian Tower was eclipsed by the 289 foot tall North Bethesda Market. Now, developers in White Flint are proposing another, even taller tower.

Oh, and it’s crazy-looking:

Proposed North Bethesda Market II. Image from JBG.

The proposed skyscraper is part of a massive mixed-use transit oriented development planned for across the street from White Flint Metro. Called North Bethesda Market II, the building will have 345 residential units and measure about 300 feet tall. While the residential tower will anchor the development,  the plan as a whole also includes a 175,000 square foot office building and 115,000 square feet of retail space.

Putting skyscrapers in White Flint makes sense. White Flint is Montgomery County’s version of Tysons Corner: a huge collection of dense but mostly suburban office buildings and residential high rises. With its Metro station, the area is as perfect a location for smart growth development as there could be in Montgomery County.

The project site plan shows that like the existing North Bethesda Market I, the North Bethesda Market II proposal is basically urban. The public spaces turn their back on Rockville Pike, which is unfortunate, but the urban design is still a big step up from existing conditions.

Proposed North Bethesda Market II. Image from JBG.

And then there’s the architecture. The bold, modernist ziggurat is absolutely unlike anything else in our region. It is a shocking sculptural statement that succeeds in all the ways it is meant to. It’s not the kind of architecture that would make a good city if repeated over 10,000 background buildings, but it will be an undeniable landmark - an icon to the city White Flint aspires to be.

I wouldn’t want to see more than one of these, but I like it for what it is.