News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

One Man's Trophy Tower Is Another Man's One Reston Town Center: A CGI Odyssey Into Reston's Future Tallest Building

One RTC View

So you own a "government services" company and want to impress the GS-17 Assistant Deputy Administrator For Dolphin Bomb Strapping/Micronesian Region that's responsible for 99 percent of your revenues? No better way of reminding him of your careful stewardship of tax dollars his place in the pecking order by showing him the view from this, your new "trophy office tower." Scoff at your competitors far below in Reston Town Center, in their inferior midrise Class A commercial office space! Mock the non-elite peons trying to figure out how to download a smartphone app so they can park in their sad non-wavy parking garages! Because you, wise scion of industry, got in on the ground floor of One Reston Town Center, the mauvescraper soon to bisect the big-box retail of the Spectrum Center along Reston Parkway. Only not the ground floor, silly rabbits. That's for some lowlife business like a Panera or something!

Sorry. We got a little carried away after reading the breathless marketing copy on One RTC's fancy new "web site":


Pivotal. Stunning. Remarkable. Impressive. Sophisticated. Expansive. Sounds like the vocabulary of another developer who's been in the newspapers of late.

But we digress. Not to be confused with the equally fancy "International Tower" rebranding across the Toll Road, One Reston Town Center has provided us with a bunch of the marketing language and awesome CGI renderings we love so bad. There's even an awesome video, complete with CGI people walking around like the ghosts in the machine inhabiting the CGI alternate reality of another exciting Reston development.

The developers do appear to be aware of the fun commercial office building trend of less space per worker, which leads to a comfortable working environment like this:

Office space

In case you didn't feel like counting, that's 9 offices and 125 "open workstations." We can't wait to move Restonian World Headquarters into the third cubicle of Row Three on the southwest side of the 9th floor. Cozy!

But let's not dwell on that. The building will have a "cybercafe," which apparently is still a thing? Maybe it will have a T-1 connection direct to America Online and Compuserve. Plus, DEALMAKING.


Folks on the right doing some STONE COLD DEALMAKING. The slackers sitting down nearby? Not so much. COFFEE IS FOR CLOSERS, CHUMPS.


This dynamic duo is doing so much UNDER THE TRELLIS DEALMAKING, they're not watching the gang of roughies loitering nearby.


These CGI folks on the video are CYBER DEALMAKING. Not sure if the woman on the right is contemplating jumping because of some DEALMAKING GONE BAD.


Finally, an illustration that accurately captures the zeitgeist of the contemporary workplace, the end.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Brilliant: Metro Seeks to Address Declining Ridership By Closing Silver Line Stations

Metro cuts

After seeing ridership steadily decline in recent years, Metro has, as they say in the movies, a plan: close the majority of its brand new Silver Line stations during off-peak hours. That'll solve the problem!

This is one of a variety of proposals floated in a draft presentation (PDF) of Metro's budget proposals for FY2018. Metro is already making plans to privatize parking at most stations, though probably not at Wiehle (and given how the invisible hand of the free market brought us $13 one-way tolls on the Beltway express lanes, we're excited to see how that works out). And further cuts in service and/or fare increases seem as inevitable as the next track fire or inexplicable single track delay.

Of course, this silver-filled trial balloon is part of a ploy to blackmail encourage Fairfax County and the other jurisdictions that Metro serves into ponying up more money to keep the beleaguered system afloat. And it might work! After promoting Tysons Corner as the next Paris hip urban center, the county isn't going to want all those new fancypants skinny jeans wearing, city-loving residents in Tysons' two ugly high-rises to lose access to their Metro stations in the evenings or the weekends. How would they get to the 9:30 Club, or any other amenities of a real city (with the possible exception of the Container Store) otherwise?

This kind of bloggy outrage is exactly what Metro is hoping to stir up with a proposal like this. Still, it's not a great sign of confidence in the future of your system when your plan to turn around declining ridership is to basically close most of your newest stations most of the time. But for a dysfunctional system, it's par for the course.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

We Can't Have Nice Things, Pt. 93: Reston Recycling Center to Close, All Because Lady Bey Poster Incomprehensibly Considered Garbage


Our Other South Reston Confidential Restonian Operative "Southie" sent us an electronic mail with some shocking news: Fairfax County's Reston South recycling center, known more officially as the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services West Ox/I-66 Transfer Station Recycling and Disposal Center's Reston South Park & Ride Recycling Drop-Off Facility (or FCDPWESWO/I66TSR&DCRSP&RRD-OF for short) will close due to "illegal dumping of old furniture, appliances, and other items." By way of proof, the county posted the shocking photo below of the FCDPWE...whatever:


Where they see "garbage," we see some perfectly functional household furnishings, including a totally safe and trustworthy baby seat (once you turn it right-side up and maybe run it through an industrial defumigator). While Chapter 109.1 of the Fairfax County Code now requires curbside recycling, rendering trips to this Mecca of good taste obsolete, we'll be sad to see this monument to Reston's resourcefulness and spirit of neighborly sharing perish. We only hope they keep the poster of Lady Bey as a reminder of happier, or at least less sanitary, days, the end.

Monday, September 19, 2016

We're #28! 'Hunter Mill,' Which Is A Place, Loses Big to Ashburn and Columbia, Despite Prominent Barn in Photo


Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Just four short years ago, our beloved earth-toned community was ranked the 7th best place to live in the nation by listicle-generating sweatshop Money magazine. Someone defrost Kasey Kasem's cryogenically frozen skull, as we're now TUMBLING DOWN THE CHARTS. This year, we're ranked 28th -- and lumped in with Herndon, Vienna, Paris Tysons, and all the McMansions connecting them like a stucco-and-Klonopin-filled lymphatic system. Give us some good blockquote, Listy McListicleface:

Hunter Mill isn’t a traditional town—it encompasses parts of several Fairfax County communities, including Reston, Herndon, Vienna, and Tysons Corner. But that special blend gives the Hunter Mill District many qualities that make is a great place to raise a family. Residents here have access to government jobs in Washington, D.C., retail jobs at Tysons Corner Center (the largest shopping mall in the state), and the tech jobs at AOL, Microsoft, and Accenture in the Dulles Technology Corridor. Indeed, Hunter Mill’s unemployment rate is just 3.2%, well below the national average.

In addition, Civil War history buffs revel in Hunter Mill’s past. Because the area was split between Northern and Southern sympathizers, Hunter Mill Road, which runs through the area, supported encampments of both Union and Confederate armies. Meanwhile, present-day Hunter Mill plays host to annual events such as the two-day Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, ukulele and jazz festivals, and Taste of Reston Food Festival. That strong community spirit can also be found at Frying Pan Farm Park—the site for the Hunter Mill Melodies summer-long concert series. Still, Hunter Mill suffers from two common Northern Virginia problems: bad traffic (one study found that three of the nation’s worst bottlenecks are in Northern Virginia), and expensive housing (the typical home sold for $502,000 through July of 2016).

THAT BARN THOUGH. We don't know if the stress-addled listicle-monkeys at Money did a quick Google search for "Metro station Hunter Mill" and this was the first result that popped up, or if they think that we collectively spend every weekend at Frying Pan park, pretending to be farmers instead of, whazzitcalled, "service providers" for the gubmint.

But the hits keep coming! Reston's doppelganger Columbia ranked FIRST, for reasons that seem oddly familiar to the original planned community:

Columbia also owes its success to an idea—or maybe it’s an ideal. Founded in the late ’60s, the town made the concept of community building part of the master plan. Each of the 10 bucolically named villages (Wilde Lake, Oakland Mills) includes a mix of residences— apartments, townhomes, and single-family houses—to promote socioeconomic diversity. Individual homes don’t have mailboxes; they’re collected in groups on each cul-de-sac or block to encourage neighborly mixing. Some people worship at a church or synagogue, but others prefer an “interfaith center,” where the faiths rotate through a communal space.

The master plan guides economic development as well. Offices and retail centers are sprinkled strategically around the villages. Mid-rise office buildings are clustered downtown between the Columbia Mall and Lake Kittamaqundi, which is surrounded by an exercise path, restaurants, and the town’s celebratory symbol of inclusiveness: the 35-foot-high metal sculpture The People Tree.

"The People's Tree." Listicle ranking or not, our kickass Triffids would devour that hunk of metal in no time. And there's this:
“I sometimes tell people this is a little bit like the Land of Oz,” says Gary Ahrens, a retired high school teacher and counselor who sells real estate for Keller Williams.
Right down to the demonic undertones.

But we digress! It's one thing to be beat out by a clone. It's another to be beat out by an anxiety attack made solely out of particleboard and a Quizno's. That's right, Ashburn ranked six places higher, at #22. Accompanied by a lovely photo of the bread lines that invariably will pop up once gas goes up to $13 a gallon and people realize there's no mass transit, the Ashburn writeup focuses largely on one thing:

At the town’s epicenter is One Loudoun, a community that blends offices, shops, restaurants, entertainment, condominiums, and hotels where people gather for outdoor concerts, farmer’s markets, 5K races, and the December tree lighting ceremony.
That's right, their Fake Fake Downtown. Where, by the way, parking is still free. As it is at Columbia's mall-anchored downtown. What is it they say again about two being a coincidence, but three is a trend?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bye, Bye, API: It's Too Late For Reston's Brutalist Masterpiece, But Maybe We Can Still Save This Nearby '80s "Gem"

Bye Bye API 2

Pour one out, as the kids no longer say, for the Marcel Breuer-designed brutalist bunker that was the American Press Institute headquarters. After winning approval to demolish the legitimately recognized architectural masterpiece in late July, the developer wasted no time getting the ball rolling on the long and arduous process of tearing the API building down, scattering pulverized bits of shredded concrete and god knows what other bits of 1970s goodness to the winds. Demolition started earlier this week, and the last brutalist chunks should be gone by the end of the month.

And yet, Tall Oaks still stands. There is no justice.

While a last-ditch effort to preserve the API building on its historical merits failed, fear not! We have a chance to redeem ourselves, as an equally architecturally significant property right next door is also slated for demolition. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

RP 11720, LLC, part of Rooney Properties (which also owns the API building), plans to tear down a 30-year old office building at Sunrise Valley Drive and Roland Clarke Place to build the urban-style homes.

The parcel is at 11720 Sunrise Valley Dr., just west of the Mercer Condos, (part of JBG’s Reston Heights) and right across Roland Clarke Place from the American Press Institute property, where 34 townhouses and 10 condominiums are planned.

The property also sits across from Reston National Golf Course, which has fended off redevelopment for now.


You may be thinking to yourself, "I don't remember an architecturally significant building along that stretch of Sunrise Valley." Well, silly rabbits, let us refresh your memory:

80s gem

We can say with the full authority of our certificate of completion in architecture from one of the Caribbean's most prestigious correspondence schools that this is one of the finest examples of an architectural style that is unique to Fairfax County. Namely, the F--k It, Just Hurry Up Already And Put Up A Nondescript Office Building And Sell It Before The Office Space Boom Ends and We Wind Up Holding The Bag With Tens Of Thousands Of Vacant Square Feet Of Commercial Space We Can't Give Away school of architecture that characterized Fairfax County in the go-go 1980s and early 1990s. If anything, it's almost too nice -- many of the buildings of this era featured appealing rectangular shapes, often adorned with fake pointy roofs to hide the air conditioning. Your Restonian went to at least a dozen unrewarding temp jobs in office buildings that looked exactly like this one, including a stint rejecting low-dollar-value credit applications for a mall jewelry chain, which wasn't as depressing as it sounds. It was worse. Far, far worse.

But we digress. It's only because Restonians had this crazy idea that low-slung concrete monstrosities from the 1970s still represented a viable environment for office space (we're looking at you, Issac Newton Square) that we don't have more of these gems.

So before this proposal goes back before county planners later this month, we should start a petition, or something, to preserve this bit of Fairfax County hubris rampant development greed history. You could call this architectural monument to a lost era "dated," and not in keeping with the styles of today, but the one thing we've all learned in recent years is that greed never goes out of style, the end.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Reston Buyers Guide: What To Do With The $2 An Hour You Won't Have To Pay To Park At RTC Until January, Maybe, Or Whenever

So the notion of paid parking is going so well at Reston Town Center that the crisis management team concerned property owners have delayed it until January, after the holiday season, so as to "educate" us uninformed, non-elite knuckle-dragging Restonians exactly what a "smart cellular telephone" is, and why using one won't steal our souls—just our personally identifiable information, maybe, who knows, that's a lot of words to read for a Friday afternoon.

We could ponder just what prompted the change in plans (cough cough roughly 8,000 signatures to a fancy online petition) or read the only piece kinda sorta defending paid parking in the history of English literature. (Chaucer's immortal When that Aprille with his shoures soot/My illegally parked horst got the boot" doesn't count, as it's in Middle English).

Or we could figure out what to do with that extra $2 that's burning a hole in our pockets! Fortunately, Restonian is On Your Side(tm), ready to help. A few modest suggestions:

  • Buy 1/396th of a share of stock in RTC tenant Google from the newest cool RTC retailer where all the kids are spending their lunch money.

  • Spend 15 minutes at the nearest cybercafe (assuming they still exist) writing rave reviews of the ParkRTC app under the pen name "Don'tWorkForBoston NoSireeNotMe"

  • Retain a "crisis management firm" for approximately 22 seconds.

  • Realize that "punt" isn't bad advice for 2 lousy bucks.

  • Buy a one-way Metro ticket from Wiehle to Spring Hill. Walk back in half the time.

  • Trade it in for a $2 bill--the only truly elite currency except the $1,000 bill.

  • Finally learn to read so you can prepare to "educate yourself" about the glorious benefits of paid parking and an app that will tell you when your shopping spree might be interrupted by rain

  • Purchase a soon-to-be-collector's-item piece of concrete rubble from a legitimate architectural masterpiece

  • Buy a cup of coffee anywhere except RTC mainstay Starbucks

  • Save up for the $7 round trip to Tysons Corner to buy random midscale consumer goods there, the end.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Stay Classy, Reston! San Diego TV News Helicopter Falls Through Wormhole, Materializes Over 13th Hole of Reston National Golf Course


Someone get Ron Burgundy on the phone. We found Chopper Dave.

Confidential Restonian Operative "Mary Anne" forwarded this photo of a helicopter that was hovering over the 13th hole of Reston National Golf Course for most of the day on Tuesday. A little Internet sleuthing confirmed that it was this helicopter, bearing the markings of a news chopper from this teevee station in San Diego where Regis Philbin once worked.


Now, most teevee Action McNews stations don't own their own copters -- they lease them from helicopter companies. And this particular helicopter is owned by one such company based in New Jersey. And it's been flying around the D.C. area recently, landing and taking off from a general aviation airport near... Fort Meade.

Is this getting weird yet?

The mind boggles. Is Anchorman 3: Anchor Harder going to be filmed on location in Reston? Are RNGC's owners, having withdrawn plans to create a bollardy wonderland of mixed-use development, secretly plotting the transformation of the golf course into a helodrome out of spite? Or has the RA given up on its clandestine DRB drone development program and opted instead to use manned aircraft to spot unpainted party walls and other affronts from the sky?

Your wild conspiracy theories guesses are as good as ours. Unfortunately, Reston's own "Ron Burgundy" was unavailable for comment, so the mystery remains.

Anchorman chopper