News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, June 22, 2018

Always Pick B! Reston: The Multiple Choice Test

Well, Reston Town Center was on the tevee this morning, as the Action McNews Team On Your Side Working For You did what those of us in the media "biz" call a "live shot" in our ersatz downtown. It was all v. v. exciting, especially when they had Congressman Gerry Connolly answer a quiz of Fun Facts about our plastic fantastic planned community.

Our usual plan of picking B on any multiple choice test, which got us into one of the Caribbean's most prestigious correspondence medical schools, didn't exactly pan out as we were playing along. But wouldn't it have been great if Reston had been discovered by Giovanni Restonazzo? Judging by modern Italian architecture, our brutalist masterpieces would have looked exactly the same.

All in all, it was great teevee fun and the best viral bit of marketing on the part of RTC since this great stunt, though we would have enjoyed watching the Action McNews Team On Your Side Working For You trying to figure out the simple-to-use ParkRTC app live on the air before the Action McNews Team On Your Side Working For You van got clamped with a highly telegenic bumblebee, the end.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

More Than A Half-Century Later, Ultimate Vision of Reston Accomplished: Apartments Over Wegmans

Live. Work. Play. Consume Reasonably Priced Pre-Packaged Meals. At long last, the Reston ideal may soon become a reality.

Ever since we heard the news that exurbanite nirvana Wegmans was eying a Reston location last year, we've been on pins and needles. Now we've seen our first CGI-rendered glimpses of our future grocery nirvana, and all we can say is suck it, Loudoun! We won't have to get into our fancypants crossovers and traverse an endless maze of windy cul-de-sacs full of particleboard homes and dubious parks connected by deserted "walking paths" to get to Wegmans, because we'll be living directly above it! Who knows, maybe for a nominal fee they'll offer the apartment complex residents this special amenity:

Let's take a closer look:

Sure, it's your typical off-the-shelf massing of a midrise mixed-use apartment complex, but we've already seen far, far worse on the same stretch of Sunrise Valley Drive. Give us some exciting blockquote, BFFs at the Washington Business Journal:

Brookfield Properties' 4 million-square-foot redevelopment of the 36-acre Reston Crescent site, a short walk to the future Reston Town Center Metro station, is expected to house the community’s first Wegmans.

Now we know what that building will look like.

Brookfield has submitted two applications to Fairfax County. One is a conceptual development plan for the entire site, and the other is a final development plan for the first new building there, featuring the urban-format Wegmans topped by 380 apartments. That building, to include a screened garage with more than 1,000 parking spaces, will front Reston Parkway, just south of the Dulles Toll Road. The architects are MV&A and Alexandria-based LandDesign.

As currently envisioned, Reston Crescent will total 4.16 million square feet of mixed-use, including the two six-story office buildings there now. Those two buildings, constructed in 2000 and 2007, will remain.

The property’s existing surface parking and open space will be developed over time with about 3.77 million square feet of new construction, to include up to 1,721 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office, 380,000 square feet of retail and a 200-key hotel. The overall project will offer at least a half dozen park spaces — a dog park, fitness area, neighborhood park, Gateway Plaza and others.

More than 4.16 million square feet (okay, maybe 4.1599999999 million square feet if you don't count the dog park) of mixed-use goodness? What exactly will that look like?

That's... a little dense. But never fear, silly rabbits, because they have, as they say in the movies, a plan:

Brookfield has agreed to expand Reston Parkway along the Reston Crescent frontage to three lanes southbound, largely to mitigate the anticipated Wegmans traffic.
Judging by traffic today at the Sunrise Valley-Reston Parkway intersection, they might be better suited putting in a helipad.

Of course, none of this will come easy, or right away. Wegmansvana will be part of Phase 2 of the project. What does Phase 1 look like, you might ask?

Mmm, endless seas of surface parking. Woonerfy!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Flashback Monday: Restonian, The Magazine, Not Restonian, The Web Log

Set the controls of the Earth-Toned Wayback Machine to 1968, when the "Internet" was actually printed on, whazzitcalled, "paper" and "mailed" (kind of like Amazon Prime, only without two-day delivery of vital goods like fidget spinners) to people. That's when the still-new New Town of Reston would get its first fancy "magazine," which has a... somewhat familiar name. Check out this fancy ad from a 1968 "news paper," whatever that was, courtesy of Confidential Restonian Operative "John":

"RESTONIAN will address itself to the problems and pleasures of people in new and changing communities," the ad copy reads. But what did you get for $6 per year (adjusted for inflation, $3.25 million today) back in 1968? Glad you asked:

Yes, the holidays definitely represented a "problem and pleasure" for people in "new and changing communities," though by the tasteful line art, we're guessing our late 60s progenitors leaned more towards the "pleasure" bit.

"Hey baby, do you want to see the new shag carpet in my sunken living room?"

Also, it's good to know that it was time to remember Lake Anne just a few short years after it rose from the primordial muck. Or perhaps "Remember Lake Anne" was a war cry after the good ole' boys in Herndon razed the first earth-toned settlement along the lake's shores. We'd have to read the article to be clear on that, but every time we tapped the headline with our thumbs, the article wouldn't open! Stupid 1960s technology.

All in all, we'd give this early progenitor to this filthy "web log" a big thumbs up. We're not sure, though, if it, like today's glossy magazine devoted to Reston, had a bitchin' word search.

And despite the lack of technology available today, Restonian offered its readers a space jet-age technology that was nearly as modern as lake-powered AC:

"Your call will electronically be answered 24 hours a day."
Who knew all those scientists at Issac Newton Square managed to build an army of robot telephone operators? Maybe that's how pool passes were distributed back in the day, the end.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Metaphor Alert: Massive County Response After Lake Anne Parking Attempt Stymied By Pesky Depth Pole

For the second time in recent memory, an enterprising Reston driver made an at-speed decision to park in the wide-open (and still free!) parking area known as Lake Anne this weekend, only to be stymied by the depth pole at the lake's edge.

Naysayers and cynics might say that, despite the massive influx of traffic since the opening of the Silver Line, the county has done nothing to address a well-known dangerous stretch of road while their eyes pop cartoon-style out of their heads while making cash register sounds anytime the word "woonerf" is uttered. They may point to public proclamations such as "we can't stop development waiting for the roads to be built" as evidence of this claim.

But nothing could be further from the truth, silly rabbits! Feast your eyes on the immediate and substantive response to the latest in a regular series of crashes along this stretch of road, bypassing the usual design charrettes and environmental studies that make building, say, a pedestrian overpass take a decade:

Problem solved.

Friday, April 20, 2018

But Is It Art? Reston Awash In Fancy New Public Statuary

If you listened to people talk about what's becoming of our favorite plastic fantastic planned community in recent months, you'd think that we were in the midst of a relentless transformation into a soulless quasi-urban hellscape from which there's no escape (except via Metro, when it's not on fire). Silly rabbits, nothing could be further from the truth! Because of all that bollardy new construction, our lives are being massively enriched through the magic of improved infrastructure and services public art! Take our hands and follow us through a magical tour of why Reston is basically becoming like an outdoor version of the Louvre, only with a wider range of casual dining options.

First up, we have "Untitled," an art by Danny Lane currently being installed in the newly slenderized Presidents Park in Reston Town Center, within sight of the bloodthirsty Triffids. This bendy boi likes quiet walks in stressful city-like shopping centers, midscale chain retail shoppers who aren't afraid to cry, and "tapered, elliptical granite benches that mimic the line of the landscaped circle." But What Does It Mean?

Through his work, [Lane] contrasts the seeming fragility of glass as a material with the sturdiness of steel to create sculptures that are at once commanding and elegant.
It's a pretty An Art, to be sure, but art is in the eye of the beholder, and to us it symbolizes the twists and turns that would-be RTC patrons must make to decipher the paid parking regulations at our favorite fake downtown.

But wait, there's more! Called "The Force of Nature," this strong boi by artist Lorenzo Quinn can be seen hanging out in our favorite "Civic Plaza" at the Wiehle-Reston Metro station, replacing our previous favorite, if oddly sexualized, An Art there. But What Does It Mean?

“We humans think of ourselves as supreme beings, above all others and in absolute control of our destiny and our surroundings. We live with a false sense of security only to be awakened by Mother Nature’s fury, almost as if she needs to remind us of her presence and our responsibility towards her child (The Earth).

After having seen the ravaged coast of Thailand and the Hurricane that affected the Southern States I decided to create a sculpture dedicated to Mother Nature. This would be reminiscent of the early statues made as peace offerings to the Gods in the hope of quenching their anger.

In essence, people are not very different today from the people who lived thousands of years ago. We still devote ourselves to symbols in order to escape our destiny.”

To us, it looks like the figure is trying to heave a cannonball into one of the glass-filled parallelograms that surround it, or maybe clear some space in the line for Founding Farmers, but clearly we don't know our An Art!

Right across the street is yet another An Art. This round boi is called "Convergence," and its camera-like appearance is a tribute to the name of the apartment building it sits in front of, the Aperture. Created by Reston artist Zachary Oxman, who also sculpted Lake Anne's Metal Bob Untold Stories, What Does This An Art Mean?

Oxman describes his sculptural works as “allegories,” illustrating emotions and intangible impulses through story. Convergence uses the metaphor of a camera for the convergence of the intangible becoming tangible, the idea or inspiration becoming reality and perfectly suits the vision for Aperture where it is installed. The aperture of the lens reveals a crouching figure while the highly polished steel dome back of the sculpture reflects the building or anyone standing in front of it.
Does it reflect even more wacky changes of materials and claddings on the building than it actually has?

But our favorite An Art? The one that's replacing a legitimate piece of art.

Called "The Portal Seats of Memory," by Reston artist Marco Rando, these concrete blocks in the midst of a construction zone are a (legitimately) decent tribute to the work of architect Marcel Breuer, whose brutalist API Building was razed over the protests of preservationists for a buncha townhouses. But What do these blocky bois Mean?

The Portal Seats of Memory is a series of five sculptural stools cast in concrete to be aligned corner to corner. The intentions supporting the work are to commemorate Marcel Breuer’s design of the API building and his earlier contributions to the world of Architecture and furniture. The sculptural stool form is derived from Breuer’s repetitive use of trapezoids in many of the window (portal) designs of his buildings. The cast concrete process was used to form these architectural elements. Breuer’s noted Brutalist style embraced the natural concrete finish accentuated by essential form. Marco Rando’s intention is to use the same method and process to achieve form on an ergonomic scale. All but one stool are imprinted with the API Building footprint and the other stool will have a quote by Marcel Breuer on one side and the address of the API Building on the other.

Five seats are representative of the five physical senses, and the act of sitting ultimately engages the use of memory.

No word if the developer is going to commission, say, a display of pastel Swatches to "engage the memory" of the 80s masterpiece it razed right next door.

What's interesting is that each of these projects was funded by the developers of the sites that they sit on -- Boston Properties, Comstock, Bozzuto/Veatch, and Sekas Homes, respectively. Good on them for enriching the "built environment," as us sophisticated observers of public space filthy "web loggers" call it, even as it gets a lot more built.

Friday, April 13, 2018

When Transit Oriented Development Gives You No Infrastructure, Make Transit Oriented Lemonade

Confidential Restonian Operative "Robert" sent us this cellular telephone photograph taken on the outskirts of Reston Town Center, near Bluemont Drive and the Hyatt Parking Garage. Aw, it's nice that they put up a sign to warn passing motorists about pedestrians. But wait, what are those flags?

In case you can't read the concise, user-friendly instructions for which RTC is deservedly famous, our favorite stressful, city-like shopping center has come up with a cunning plan to keep their less elite patrons -- the ones who show up on foot or (shudder) bike instead of paying a completely reasonable price to park -- from being run over before getting to enjoy a premium midscale chain retail experience. That's right, silly rabbits, they literally want people to pick up a cheap plastic flag and wave it at speeding cars as they cross the street, then return it to a receptacle if once they make it!

This may be the last post ever on this filthy "web log." We couldn't possibly top this.

In TOTALLY UNRELATED news, there's no truth to the rumor that Fairfax County is scheduling the first of fourteen public impact hearings about potentially replacing the proposed W&OD trail pedestrian bridge across Wiehle Avenue with a similar bucket-o-flags, although preliminary design studies won't be completed until early 2022. "We can't stop development waiting for a handful of 49 cent plastic flags to be bolted haphazardly onto an existing signpost," a county planning official didn't say, probably, the end.

Update: This inspired piece of poetry, from our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Split Ticket: RA Board Election Pulls One Winner From Each 'Slate'; In Other News Dogs and Cats Expected To Start Living Together (Updated)

The RA Board elections are now over, and there's something to please everyone backers of each "slate."

Among the winners were incumbents Sridhar Ganesan (Sharks 4 for Reston) and Julie Bitzer, as well as returning board member Andy Sigle (Jets Alliance for Better Reston) and newcomer Ven Iyer. In case you're counting, each of the four-candidate slates succeeded in electing one person, a .250 average (pretty great for baseball, maybe not so much for golf?)

Highly relatable rezoning humor aside, as predicted, all the vitriol the Internets could muster for the contested seats did not result in massive turnout (PDF). The two at-large seats each drew 19 percent turnover, on par with last year's more genteel election, while the contested South Lakes seat did slightly better, with 23 percent of eligible households casting votes.

While we're happy that multiple people were willing to face a bunch of largely undeserved grief for what amounts to a thankless job, neither 4 for Reston nor the Alliance for Better Reston achieved their shared goal of world HOA domination. What does this mean for our plastic fantastic real estate development? Will the two slates put down their... um, chalk, metaphorically speaking, and work together against the very real issues Reston faces? It seems like there's a fairly common understanding of what the Board needs to do (not buy any more leaky lakefront property, and just maybe take a leadership role nudging county officials on development issues), so we're assuming all will be fine.

The new board will meet for the first time Wednesday, but in a RESTONIAN WORLD EXCLUSIVE, we have footage of the meeting as it just might happen:

Update: And now, another seat is available on the board. Hunters Woods/Dogwood Board Member Victoria White resigned Wednesday after moving out of her district. But no fun election this time! Interested candidates can apply at the link by May 11 and will be selected by the RA Board.