News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Will the Hanging Gardens of Reston and Plexiglass Dome Be Part of the New Master Plan?

Rando Hanging Gardens.jpg
Check out this fancy cross-section drawing of one possibility for the Reston-style Big Dig, which would put a series of structures, including a recreation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and a Simpsons Movie-like plastic dome over the Toll Road, thereby uniting North and South Reston forever in something that might resemble a leftover set from the sci-fi classic Barbarella, only with fewer fembot assassins. Sweet!

One of our regulars passed along the illustration and this modest proposal:
I have two drawings of the "futuristic hanging gardens of Babylon" over the Toll Road made by urban planner and landscape architect, Guy Rando. This drawing is bigger and you can see more detail. It is a cross-section. In the center bottom you will see where the rail line goes with the highway on either side.

The dome above the rail line area is a climate controlled construction to provide an interior space in all weather.

Each cross-section would be different depending on the buildings and plazas at any particular spot. It would be the ideal place to put the indoor rec center planned for Brown's Chapel.

Once we build this, we can bulldoze the buildings along the corridor (between Sunset Hills and Sunrise Valley), create parkland and woodlands for the new residents living over the Toll Road. All the commercial buildings Reston could ever need can be accommodated over the Toll Road. New roadways and pedestrian pathways can be added across the new development so Reston can be whole and not divided anymore. The developers get to make lots of money. The county gets lots of tax money. We get to keep our town the way we like it.

It's so crazy, it just might work.

Meanwhile, yesterday's kickoff meeting on revisions to the Reston Master Plan was missed by the so-called "mainstream media" and us filthy "web loggers," who had to contribute to the U.S. economy by going to various retail-zoned locations to get this item for everyone on our Christmas list. But never fear, as the next meeting will be at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at RCC's Lake Anne center.

Anyone want to share what happened at the kickoff meeting? Please do so in the comments (and bonus points if you actually attended).

18 comments:

  1. Okay, that is MUCH more interesting than the drawing posted here the other day. Is this one really being considered? It's hard for me to imagine the powers-that-be having this kind of vision.

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  2. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)December 2, 2009 at 2:34 PM

    Can we get DOUBLE bonus points if we both attended AND met Mr. Bob Simon? This gentleman sat behind me and helped me to take off my leather coat when it got stuck on me as I flailed my arms around like a chicken with its head cut off. :-)

    The meeting was VERY well-attended; nearly every seat was occupied. I found the PowerPoint presentation to have been a bit on the boring side, especially since we were mostly being read things we either already knew or could easily glean from the materials we were given. I was saddened to see I was probably the only one there under 25---apparently Reston either has no youth or is home to youth that don't care about the community's future.

    Ms. Marion Stillson's husband (Jack?) aired some excellent points:

    1.) Why are the Dulles Corridor & Reston Town Center being reviewed separately from the rest of Reston when projects considered for one will directly impact the other?

    2.) How can civic-minded citizens get involved?

    There was one man a few rows ahead of me who I think runs a public access television show. He looked to be upset that he was skipped over when he had wanted to ask a question, but then again, as Heidi Merkel pointed out, he has asked numerous questions in the past and should let someone "new" get a chance.

    A well-spoken gentleman who emigrated to Reston from the U.K. 8 years ago asked if the non-PRC areas would be absorbed into the PRC. Heidi said no.

    Overall while the event was a bit of a bore everyone behaved themselves. There were no hysterical comments about the ills of rail, the bogeyman coming to bulldoze their clusters, etc. Very well done!

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  3. Brooklyn Bridge SalesmanDecember 2, 2009 at 4:50 PM

    "It's so crazy, it just might work."

    It actually might. Concentrate all the increased density in the one part of Reston that still has usable open space -- the air space above the Toll Road -- keep the rest of Reston at its existing density, and save the sense of openness that most of our community now has.

    Only serpent in this Hanging Garden of Eden, however, is that it likely would be very expensive to build the support structures over the Toll Road capable of supporting the weight of such massive buildings. If there were absolutely no other open space available anywhere nearby, such a project might make economic sense. But with all the open space just to our west in Loudoun County, and with a glut of commercial and retail space throughout this region for the foreseeable future, I'm not sure what developer would want to take a chance on such a grandiose scheme.

    But I do like the hanging gardens concept even if, as we all know, it's been a long slide downhill in Iraq ever since Babylon.

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  4. A project like this would cause massive delays on the toll road and backups on Sunrise Valley/Sunset Hills during construction. There is no safe way to build a structure over a highway without shutting it down.

    However I'm all for air rights. However tearing down the buildings in the Dulles Corridor? Not such a bright idea. We should concentrate the density in the corridor and leave areas farther away with "frozen" development status. If part of that comes from air rights, then great. But air rights is not the solution to the inevitable growth that will come here.

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  5. Marion's husband is Dick Stillson. Nice guy and great points.

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  6. I agree that Dick Stillson had good questions but did anyone else there understand the answers? The presenter had an amazing ability to provide a "non-answer" to any question.

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  7. I want a freakin' freedom trayDecember 2, 2009 at 10:05 PM

    Who gives a crap about gardens, silver lines, even venerable Bob and BiCO's get together? I mean I want to hear more about the freaking FREEDOM TRAY!

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  8. What do you mean you don't care about Bob and BiCO? The mental image that comes to mind of 95-year old Dear Leader helping 23-year old BiCO escape from his entangled leather coat (with BiCO by his own admission flailing around like a decapitated chicken)is priceless.

    And who is "Guy Rando"? It sounds like the name of a 1970s porn star!

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  9. Yeah, anon 10:05, the Freedom Tray (nee "French Tray") owns all the ass and renders all other trays obsolete. I personally own nine of them, one for each position.

    Also funny is how BiCO got "Jack" and "Dick" confused, but that's another article, I predict.

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  10. When you think about it, the Freedom Tray (tm) is pretty much a walking, talking DRB violation. A DRB violation you can stuff a 72-ounce Super Big Gulp into, but a DRB violation just the same...

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  11. Let's get rid of RA altogether!

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  12. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)December 3, 2009 at 8:07 AM

    I stand corrected. In the past few days I've inadvertently called this couple "Jack & Marilyn Stillson" instead of "Dick & Marion Stillson!" YIKES! Then again I suppose since everyone slaughters my last name we can call it a draw! :-) Can we just make this couple the unofficial "leaders" of Reston already? I've lived here for six months and have seen them around the community more than Robin Smyers.

    I wanted to have the opportunity to actually speak to Mr. Simon because I have a lot of respect for him, but he arrived late and left early. I suppose having him touch me as my coat wouldn't cooperate with removing itself from my body was good enough though. It appeared as if he may have come to the meeting alone. Does he take the bus around a lot? Please don't tell me a 95-year-old is still driving at night.

    In regards to building OVER the Toll Road I am 100% supportive of this. The people panicking that their clusters will be bulldozed can rest easily, and this will help to better bridge the gap that currently exists between North Reston and South Reston. I also support bulldozing much of the existing corridor structures. Their current orientation with large parking lots and disjointed buildings really wastes a LOT of space.

    Also, why is everyone so afraid of below-grade parking options? I'm dismayed that the Wiehle Avenue Metrorail station will have such a sea of asphalt when if we built a multi-level underground parking garage we could preserve all of that open space. Been to the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metrorail station lately? The large parking lots are HIDEOUS!

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  13. Mr. Simon drives at night. Have seen it with my own eyes. Guy Rando was around from the beginning of Reston back in the 60s. He is an urban planner and landscape architect.

    BiCO, the plans for Wiehle Metro are available at Planning Evaluation at the Herrity Bldg. They do plan for an underground parking lot.
    You can also get the plans from Cathy Hudgins' office which is in the building across from the library that houses the police station. Ask Goldie Harrison, Hudgins' staffer, for a copy. The six buildings will be up to 21 stories. Maybe you could ask for the updated plan from November 9. It has pretty pictures of those tall, densely packed bldgs. You will also note the plaza in the center of those buildings. It will be the size of Lake Anne Plaza with the addition of a two lane circulator road. Imagine sitting at Lake Anne with two lanes of traffic carrying cars round and round just feet from your table where you might be enjoying a cup of coffee.

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  14. The Convict in the GulagDecember 3, 2009 at 10:02 AM

    Ah, that would be like dining on the patio of Anita's on the corner of Route 50 and Centreville Road.

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  15. Hickory Cluster knuckle dusterDecember 3, 2009 at 11:06 AM

    "Does he take the bus around a lot? Please don't tell me a 95-year-old is still driving at night. "

    Not sure, but I see him WALKING around the lake on PATHS all the time.

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  16. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)December 3, 2009 at 12:12 PM

    We get it, knuckle duster. You don't think sidewalks are a necessary part of a community because the path system supposedly serves the same purpose. You've made that point abundantly clear ad nauseum. I'm inclined to disagree that the paths serve just as effectively as sidewalks would, and I've also made that point crystal clear. Can we both just agree to disagree already?

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  17. Hickory Cluster knuckle dusterDecember 3, 2009 at 3:43 PM

    And your argument is summed thusly: I can't afford to live in Arlington. I wish Reston was like Arlington. I think a community that has existed without sidewalks and street lamps everywhere needs to change its aesthetic because I refuse to jog on paths and wet leaves on the road makes it dangerous. I don't want to pay taxes for schools because I don't have children, I like RTC because it is hip and urban and enjoy the occasional cougar barking up the wrong tree.

    I'll agree to disagree with all of those viewpoints.

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  18. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)December 8, 2009 at 1:03 PM

    Kunckle Duster, yesterday I had to drop my car off at Reston Automotive along Sunset Hills (who took three hours to change one tire, by the way), and I walked back home to Charter Oak. I felt like I was playing a game of Frogger as I had to walk IN Sunset Hills during the evening rush hour due to the lack of sidewalks and deep mud along the side of the road. I finally made it to the sidewalk along Old Reston Avenue only to find it largely uncleared of snow/ice, making me "walk like a penguin." About midway up the road I found a nifty trail that ran between Old Reston Avenue and North Shore Drive via the Temporary Road picnic area, but it was very poorly-lit---so much so in parts that I nearly twisted my ankle while trying to dodge around the mud. I then walked through the mud in front of Charter Oak back to my apartment. My shoes now sit on my stoop, covered in mud.

    YOU, my dear Knuckle Duster, are in the minority who doesn't feel as if inadequate lighting and a lack of sidewalks are deterrents to encouraging safe pedestrian activity in Reston. What would have been an easier way for me to get between Charter Oak and Reston Automotive at night? Our community has 65,000 people. We're no longer "podunk." We're the largest DC suburb outside the Beltway. Why can't we have BASIC amenities like everyone else? What's wrong with admiring some of what Arlington has? After all, they do make numerous "Best Places" rankings.

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