News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reston's Sinewey Goodness, Now and Then

Besides making us hungry at inopportune moments, all the recent talk about sinews and Texas donuts have gotten us to wondering: What was the thinking behind determining where high-density development should be concentrated in Reston?

Glad you asked. Please to be enjoying this map from the original 1962 Reston Master Plan:

You can clearly see the sinews chalked off for high-density development (shaded in dark colors) wrapping around the lakes (though curiously, Lake Thoreau is missing from the original master plan) and creating pathways of higher density linking the lakes to the planned Village Centers. Here's what the original Master Plan had to say about these sinews:

We're not sure they succeeded in creating the "visual and social interest" of a "fine city street" along every one of those pathways, but otherwise the concept makes sense. Especially within the context of creating clusters of townhouses, as opposed to single-family housing surrounded by grass lagoons.

Flash forward to 1989, when the Master Plan was revised:

master plan 89.jpg
The sinews are mostly gone, replaced by those checkerboard areas reserved for high-density development. Someone with a slide rule apparently figured out that prime lakefront property could fetch a higher return with less sinewy uses, so those areas are mostly gone. What was left mostly aligned with the higher-density development at the time, though the sinew-esque designation ensures that future development (or redevelopment) in those spots could be at a very high density. It also explains how a mauvescraper could legitimately be proposed for a spot across the street from a neighborhood of three-story townhouses.

Now flash forward to 2011, and you get this:

sideways fairway.jpeg
This doesn't necessarily mean that every redevelopment proposal within those checkerboarded high-density areas will win the same kind of accolades that Fairway has. But it does mean that any proposal in those spots could be just as dense. In some of those checkered places, dense redevelopment will make more sense than in others, which is why people who care about the way Reston will look in the future will need to pay attention to each individual proposal, along with the flash and sparkle of the current Master Plan process itself.

That's not especially funny, so please enjoy this credit line from the original Master Plan, posted without comment:



  1. Phase 2 of the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force will take up rezoning Reston--our neighborhoods and the village centers. The 1989 master plan as it exists will be altered.

    It is important to pay attention to the process because it was leaked out of the county government that all of Reston is to be rezoned high density. If the Board of Supervisors approves high density across Reston, all our neighborhoods will be available for redevelopment, not just the ones in the old "sinews," but all of our neighborhoods.

  2. Candidate Convict (Not Marion Barry)September 2, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    If elected, I promise to work towards having all property rezoned to its current configuration, and to only allow a higher density in one area only if there is an off-setting reduction of existing density in another area.

    No Growth is Smart Growth.

  3. Mr. Owl ate my metal worm.

  4. Oozy Rat In A Sanitary ZooSeptember 2, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    A palindromic tribute to the awesome Macaroni Gill:

    "Go hang a salami; I'm a lasagna hog."


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