Capital One Center cranes will start coming down as construction shifts to new phase

(Updated on Sept. 10) The Tysons skyline will soon look a little emptier, as one of the three cranes looming over Capital One Center near the Capital Beltway is scheduled to be disassembled next week.

The move marks a turning point in construction on the mixed-use development forming around Capital One’s headquarters. The Perch sky park opened to the public last month, and the performing arts venue Capital One Hall and The Watermark Hotel will come online this fall.

The next phase focuses on two office towers — one 24 stories tall and the other 30 stories, plus a roof — that the cranes have been piecing together on the site. Linked by an atrium, the buildings will encompass 900,000 square feet of office and retail space, slated to be finished in 2023, according to Capital One Center.

Miller & Long — one of dozens of subcontractors for the project — topped off both towers earlier this year, but crane operators have been assisting other parts of the build, and the skyscrapers are still a hard-hat site.

The tallest crane, which towers 550 feet above ground, will come down by mid-October, and crews will remove the remaining crane on the north side of the new buildings by the end of the year.

The bulk of Miller & Long’s work on Capital One Center occurred last year even as the COVID-19 pandemic upended the construction industry across the country.

Construction jobs in Virginia took an initial hit before the industry bounced back to its pre-pandemic peak of over 207,000 jobs by the end of 2020. Since January, though, employment has dropped again by several thousand.

Miller & Long CEO Brett McMahon says the dip stems from a statewide pause in college and university construction. He says that’s only a limited factor for dips in jobs statewide, not Tysons.

“The state university projects…started getting pushed and pushed and pushed,” he said. “That part of it may be a big chunk of what’s affecting the overall demand for construction.”

However, Miller & Long expects to see continued growth in the D.C. region and is “pursuing a record number of projects,” Vice President of Logistics Jim Martinoski says.

While other businesses faced multi-week shutdowns or had to adapt to work-from-home setups, construction of the two Capital One Center office towers only halted for one day due to COVID-19 sometime around late spring of 2020, Martinoski says.

Even for a commercial development project, Capital One Center has been a massive undertaking, sprawling across 26 acres of land at the intersection of I-495 and Route 123.

Miller & Long poured 100,000 cubic yards of concrete for the Capital One headquarters, which began in 2014 and finished in 2018. The adjacent block featuring Capital One Hall, The Watermark Hotel, and Wegmans required another 100,000 cubic yards.

The new office towers have consumed 90,000 cubic yards of concrete. Typical jobs for 20 to 30-story buildings involve 20,000 to 30,000 cubic yards.

The Capital One campus is part of a development boom in Tysons that has also seen a shift to more eco-friendly buildings, according to Miller & Long.

While working on Capital One Center, the contractor has started using more environmentally friendly cement made in batches at the site, reducing the need for trucks to haul it to the work site as has been done traditionally.

“It’s amazing how much it has grown,” McMahon said of Tysons. “It was a bit of farmland when I was a kid.”

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