News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

With Arrival of Clinton Campaign Office, Reston Becomes The Key Swing Planned Community in Election '16

2016 08 20 10 40 50

A Confidential Restonian Political Operative forwarded this cellular telephone photo of Hillary Clinton's fancy new Lake Anne field office, which opens tonight. Clearly the Clinton campaign "gets it"--as Lake Anne goes, so goes Reston, and as goes Reston, so goes Columbia, and the Woodlands, and all the other plastic fantastic planned communities nationwide. Forget Soccer Moms and NASCAR Dads -- HOA Homebodies are the swing demographic this fall.

But is there more than meets the eye here? Let's take a look:


Nowhere is the corrupting influence of money on politics more starkly visible than in this campaign's signage. Also, nice Ikea cabinet. Wonder what's inside? OMGZ WE FOUND THE EMAIL SERVER BENGHA$I NEVER FORGET

Then there's this:

Chair of Power

The Off Brand Office Chair of Privilege. Most likely a donation from the 1 Percent, which tossed it out after their secretary's personal assistant's dog walker's secretary reported it wasn't "bejeweled enough." BERNIE WAS RIGHT.

Of course, Clinton's rival has yet to set up field offices in Reston (or pretty much anywhere). But after poring through FEC documents for hours, we've made a shocking discovery: He's definitely planning on Making Reston Great Again:

T  Helipad

Can't wait for the Trump Steaks pop-up next door, the end.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Flashback Monday: The Kids Are Alright

Pregnant Ad

Set the controls of the Earth-Toned Wayback Machine to September 17, 1971, when this ad appeared in the Washington Star, which was what people used to refer to as a "news paper."

"Young people are pregnant," the ad declares, and at first glance it looks like a come-on for a dodgy pregnancy help center. But no, it's worse. Far worse.


We missed the episode of Mad Men where Don Draper made this presentation to a bunch of Gulf Reston executives, complete with an evocative slideshow of pictures of passersby on the Van Gogh bridge, and then drank an entire fifth of something akin to jet fuel to live with the guilt.

But we digress. Let's get to what advertisers call "the close!"


Digging the haiku-like ending there. And $200 a month in 1971 dollars ($373,950) was a small price to pay for a whopping thirteen black-and-white teevee channels back in the day. So where does the ad veer into outright comedy?

Pregnancy ad 3

Ten minutes? You're killing us, random Reston ad, the end.

(From the Facebook group Reston, Remember When).

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Reston Redskins: A Modest Proposal


Um, no. Next blog post, pls.

A bit of clickbait Very Serious Journalism got perpetrated after Gov. Terry McAuliffe made an offhand comment during a radio program:

RESTON, VA -- Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is aggressively courting the Washington Redskins to relocate from Maryland into Virginia -- and Reston could be at the top of the list for where a stadium would be built.

McAuliffe said Reston and other nearby locations would be "great places for a new stadium," provided a deal could be worked out that would be fair to the taxpayers.

Fancy dateline aside, this seems unlikely. As our BFFs at Reston Now pointed out, "there is virtually no space in Reston that could accommodate a stadium and associated parking."

Or is there? Much like Soldier Field in Chicago, which added a modern new stadium atop its historical predecessor, we can think of a certain, vaguely beloved structure that's made of a strong enough material to handle adaptive reuse.


BOOM. Beats a bunch of townhouses built out of particleboard. And who reads any more, anyway? Although, in the spirit of Reston's historical inclusivity, we'd probably have to insist the team change its name to the Reston Live, Work, Play, and Get Involvedskins (a controversial change that would just narrowly edge out the DRB-favored Reston Goldenrodskins).

We'll be awaiting our consultant fee from a certain Mr. Snyder, the end.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Lesser of Two Weevils: RA Introduces Invasive Pests To Take Out Invasive Plants

RA weevils

So what's the RA been up to lately? Not much, just RELEASING A THOUSAND DESTRUCTIVE INSECTS INTO RESTON, is all. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at the Walker Nature Center:

As part of Reston Association’s Integrated Pest Management program, 1,000 Mile-A-Minute Weevils (Rhinoncomimus latipes) were released to feed on the invasive Mile-A-Minute vine. Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. released 500 weevils in a restored stream reach by South Lakes High School, and the other 500 were released by RA staff along the gas pipeline easement near Trails Edge Lane. Mile-A-Minute Weed, (Persicaria perfoliata) is a vigorous vine that smothers and shades out native plants.The vine has a triangular shaped leaf, small thorns and blue to purple berries.
Even swarms of pests with freakish elongated snouts are a lesser evil than the dreaded Eight Invasive Plants. THE ENEMY OF OUR ENEMY IS OUR FRIEND.

Please to be enjoying this nightmare fuel picture of the swarms of weevils being released into the wild:


What could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Stuccobrutalpocalypse Now: In a Flash, A Half Century's Worth of Stucco and Poured Concrete Consigned To The Wrecking Ball

Wrecking ball

Yesterday marked the official beginning of the end of two longstanding, if also largely abandoned Reston institutions, if by "institution" you mean "structure built to confirm to 1960s-era design notions that are of marginal relevance in today's world of pressboard and Tyvek."

In one (well, two) fell swoops, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors consigned the brutalist Marcel Bruer-designed American Press Institute building on Sunrise Valley Road and the Tall Oaks Stucco Wasteland Village Center to the wrecking ball, approving awesome bollardy developments that will take each of their respective places.

SponsorsThe API building is arguably the greater loss, given an architectural pedigree that led to a last-ditch effort to save it, and even possibly reuse it as a future home for the Reston Regional Library. "Breuer’s American Press Institute building deserves a second life, not a demolition permit," Carol Ann Riordan, Cheryl Terio-Simon and Ralph P. Youngren wrote in a Washington Post op-ed the week before the county's decision.

Instead, county supervisors used circular logic: the historical building didn't have historical designation so it couldn't be considered on its historical merits. Give us some developer-friendly blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

The supervisors’ mission is to stick to judging an application on “meeting the criteria set forth in the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance for this area and supported by recommendation of approval by Department of Planning and Zoning,” [Supervisor Cathy Hudgins] said. [...]

“It’s a building no one wants to occupy,” said James Lee, president of Ronney Properties, which purchased the building three years ago. “I understand sentimental attachments to this building. It would have been nice if they put a historical encumbrance on it before it went to market, because we would not have bought it if we knew if was functionally obsolete and could not be leased.”

“We have determined adaptive use is [not possible] because of the way it was built,” he added. “As a result if the rezoning is denied, we are left with an asset that has no cash value. It has to be demolished.”

But never fear, fans of brutalist architecture and dying media!
The supervisors also passed a motion that efforts will be made to preserve an archive of the building and its history.
Pro tip, county officials: Click this link and hit CONTROL-P. There's your "archive."

Peeping tomAcross the Toll Road, the news that the Tall Oaks Stucco Wasteland is now cleared to become a largely residential Matrix-like virtual world of CGI grannies staring blankly at walls was a bit less of a surprise. A series of small revisions made by developer Jefferson Apartment Group over time led to, if not the open space and wide-ranging retail one would expect from a village center, some pretty fancy names for the limited open space that will be on offer (we can't wait to hang out on the Linear Green, though it sounds like we might need a sextant to do so). As an added bonus, the repurposing of a couple of the existing outbuildings for retail space means that all both of the existing tenants can relocate to new space instead of waiting for all that stucco dust to clear once the center is torn down.

What's not clear is whether the developer agreed to pay for improvements requested by both the county and the Reston Association, which finally has a reason to invest in the perennially empty Tall Oaks pool directly across the street from the ex-Village Center:

RA has asked JAG for contributions for improvements to the Tall Oaks Pool, which is located across North Shore Drive from the new development. Fulkerson said the pool needs ADA (Americans With Disability Act) accessibility upgrades, improvements to the parking lot, the addition of bike racks, and improvements to the underpass that connects Tall Oaks to the pool area. “Thus far, the applicant has not agreed to assist with the improvements,” she said.

The developer has also declined to make the planning staff recommended contribution to Fairfax County Public Schools. The staff report says the new Tall Oaks should net about 57 new students (33 elementary, 8 middle and 16 high school). Staff recommends a contribution of $669,693 (57 students x $11,749).

JAG says it is declining to make the school contribution because 1) the school system was offered land to build a new school when Tall Oaks was first developed and eventually returned the land rights; and 2) the site was zoned as a shopping center in 1969 and a schools contribution was not required.

JAG has also declined the staff report’s recommendation of a $20,000 contribution to offset impact to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Station 25 on Wiehle Avenue.

We're not holding our breath. Together, these decisions definitely reinforce the pro-development bent of the county board, but we can't fault them for this one. While this is the first time a village center has become something less village-centery, it's an improvement over the decaying stucco monument to lost franchise stores that sits there today. Even Bob Simon, as staunch a supporter of village centers as anyone in Reston, said that we don't need all of them anymore.

At the same time, we can still mourn small losses to Reston's original heritage, as our plastic fantastic planned community becomes a little bit more like other rapidly growing areas around Metro stations. And maybe buy earplugs and dust masks -- tearing both of these suckers down is going to be a noisy, messy affair. After all, they don't build them like they used to, the end.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Simon Says: New Lake Thoreau Public Art Project Resembles Real-Life Pokemon Gym, Prompts Complex Interpretations


When we first saw this mysterious structure land atop the Lake Thoreau spillway, presumably from outer space, we first thought it was one of those, whazzitcalled, Pokemon gyms, and that we were going to get the power up and capture the wild Restonatta and win the game! But then we realized we'd left our phone in the car and this was, somehow, real life in our favorite earth-toned community. So whazzit?

Turns out whazzit is "Simon," the first public art project to grace our beautiful spillways -- concrete masterpieces of the form in their own right -- since the awesome Prog Rock Pyramid of Ought-Fourteen.

"Looks like a house with a bunch of squiggly lines coming out of it," you uncultured types might be thinking to yourselves. "Looks like a combination of the approved Redwood and Goldenrod exterior trim colors," you DRB types might be thinking to yourselves. Let us tell you, silly rabbits, why you're both wrong. Clue us into the Deeper Meaning, BFFs at IPAR:

Inspired by Robert E. Simon’s Seven Principles of Community, Simon shows that beauty, both structural and natural, is a necessity of a good life and should be fostered. The house structure represents how the hospitality of Reston draws people into the community, its warm colors creating an inviting atmosphere, and the curtain + window illustrating Reston’s welcoming nature. Reston is our home, and the house serves as a representation of such. The pieces radiating out from the house express an organic shape that changes the way the structure is viewed to communicate something that is less industrial and more attune to nature and the form it takes, like roots of a tree. The gradient emphasizes the diversity of the people within our community, who come from many different walks of life but still intend to be part of one single entity. The white accents draw the eye towards the structure and represent the bright impression of the inside view. From the initial conception to the present, the combination of both organic and geometric structure has been a consistent part of the sculpture.
WHAT THEY SAID. What, with our Ph.D. in art appreciation from one of the Caribbean's most prestigious correspondence schools, we actually saw it more as a representation of our elite town center, literally elevated above our mundane natural environment by virtue of its high-quality midscale chain retail and dining, yet somehow glassed off from the rest of the community, which can only peek through the curtain -- an ironic representation of the lack of transparency about the introduction of paid parking -- with envy at the Pottery Barn furnishings on offer while the smugness of those who choose to frequent it literally radiates out of it. Just goes to show you that art is in the eye of the beholder. Plus there's not a Triffid in sight.

Designed by South Lakes High School students under the guidance of Marco Rando, the project is actually pretty cool. You can come to a celebration of "Simon" with the school's STEAM team at 7 Monday evening if you're so inclined.

Update: Monday's celebration has been canceled due to the excessive heat.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Gotta Park 'Em All! Reston's Newest Smartphone App Is Way Cooler Than Pokemon Go, But You'll Have To Wait Until September To Pay--Er, Play

Parking 1

Less than a week after Pokemon Go made Reston lose its collective mind and filled Lake Anne Plaza with happy screen-obsessed flaneurs for the first time in recent memory that ukuleles weren't involved, Reston has an even cooler, more exciting, and -- dare we say it? -- more elite smartphone app to play with.

Parking 3ParkRTC doesn't have, whazzitcalled, Pokeballs or anything, but it does grant you the right to continue parking at our gritty urban core shrine to elite midscale dining and retail offerings, plus the promise of exclusive discounts from participating merchants. Rad!

You know how you can tell ParkRTC is elite? Pokemon Go may have run into a little trouble with its privacy settings, but this app doesn't even have privacy settings! Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

Left blank was the FAQs section and the privacy policy, which has been a source of concern for some would-be visitors.
Bah. Having all our personal information sifted through by some dude named Dimitry in Smolensk is a small price to pay -- certainly less than the $2 an hour that RTC will soon charge for access to its state-of-the-art automated parking garages -- to be able to get a primo space for our Starbucks runs.

We can't wait to claim the basement level of the parking garage for Team Mauve! But wait, what's this?

Paid parking at Reston Town Center will be pushed back to September, Boston Properties representatives have told store owners.

Reston Town Center was supposed to go to paid parking ($2 an hour) on weekdays beginning Aug. 1. Weekends and special events will remain free.

Boston Properties also told merchants “we are also working on another innovative element of our plan which will provide for an even safer place to live, work and shop – we are very excited about this element of our plan which we, unfortunately, are not able to discuss publicly at this time due to business disclosure issues.”

Some people are hoping the delay means that public opposition to the elite paid parking plan may prompt Boston to change -- or at least soften -- its plans to charge for parking. We're not holding our breath, but we're hoping they'll use the extra time to "gamify" the app even more. Instead of Pokeballs, maybe you'll be able to fling virtual, "Great" Falls-sized sacks of money towards corporate logos to "capture" various retail experiences. Perhaps you'll "battle" parking enforcement golf carts by getting back to your spot on level 5 before time runs out! Maybe you'll be able to pick which "team" you want to battle for (we're calling dibs on Team World of Beer.) We're almost certain there will be a way to virtually scorn all the teenagers, poors without smartphones and other non-elite visitors to RTC. We literally can't wait. Gotta park 'em all!