News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

RA Opposes Town Center Mauvescraper, Profiles It In Its Magazine

Tall building.jpegThe Reston Association has joined the growing ranks of critics of the 23-story mauvescraper proposed for the site of the Reston Times building on Reston Parkway, arguing in a letter to the Fairfax County Planning Commission that although "redevelopment of the property in question is inevitable, RA also believes that the project as currently proposed does not conform to and is incompatible with the existing and planned development in the vicinity of the site." Specifically, the RA says the building is too tall and should include a residential component.

RA joins the ranks of Fairfax County's planning staff, which last month recommended denial of the project in its own report (PDF), which is 85 pages chock full of hilarious cross-sections like this one:

more trees.jpg

County planning staff argue the building is too tall and too far from public transit. As proof, they shared this elevation drawing, with the proposed building in a shockingly DRB-unapproved shade of violet:

RTC elevation.jpg

Actually, that doesn't look so bad. But then look at it from the north:

RTC elevation2.jpg

Okay, so maybe it's a bit on the tall side, especially with the Macaroni Grill-razing Spectrum redevelopment, itself not exactly designed in the spirit of a 1960s rancher, wrapping around it like a hot dog bun. Although for us the biggest takeaway is just how ridiculous the Harris Teeter/Office Depot building, which is not included in the Spectrum redevelopment, is going to look with all the other non big box stuff around it. Also, where will people park?

Reston2020 and ARCH have also both gone on record opposing the proposal, with R2020 going so far as to call it "the wrong building in the wrong place." The county planning commission is supposed to consider the project tonight, so we'll see what happens -- though we were under impression that the development plan was actually approved back in 1978, with no height or intensity restrictions.

While the RA has now gone on record opposing the project, it also devoted three pages to it in the summer issue of Reston: The Magazine. Here it is, front and center in the magazine's table of "content," which called it "a model project for partnering with Reston Association's Design Review Board." (Which, to be fair, has already approved the proposal, as has the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee.)

RTC toc.jpg
And here's the story. If you have a 13" monochrome monitor like the one at Restonian World Headquarters, you might have to squint a bit to read the text:


Apparently the RA Board has a shorter lead time than its magazine. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Update: The Fairfax County Planning Commission has deferred the project until May 17.


  1. Hey RA, can you spell 'schizophrenic'.

  2. It is inevitable that, an uncertain commercial real estate market and its continuing speculative bubbles notwithstanding, that Reston Town Cener and its environs will one day resemble other NOVA communities closer to the District in terms of density and large scale development. In that context, the RA Board is just another bunch of NIMBY's.

    1. That does not mean that RA needs to bend over the barrel and abdicate any control it may have over the impact of the development of Reston. Looking at the developments like Tysons and parts of Alexandria (Crystal City), I hope that RA and others keep voicing concerns so that Reston Town center area does not have to resemble those very ugly unplanned areas.

      On a side note, although it seems quite tall, it is one of the least ugly high-rises in the area.

  3. '...I hope that RA and others keep voicing concerns so that Reston Town center area does not have to resemble those very ugly unplanned areas.'

    Well, there's ugly, then there's ugliness.

    The RA's crack aesthetic squad of Reston Town Center Beautifiers ought to get out and about more. The traffic at the intersection of Bowman Towne Drive and Fountain Drive is guided through a four-way stop by stop signs that are barely nailed to leaning wooden posts that are cracking apart. Real classy...especially for a street with a name that includes the spelling of word town as 'Towne'.

    Those crappy wooden RTC stop signs look like something you're find in the BillHilly Backcountry of West Virginia in a dazed village that just recently woke up and realized that the Civil War is over.

    'Guess what, y'all, it seems da war's done over wit, and now we gots all these here dang horseless carriages cloggin' up dem streets, so how's abouts weez makes us sum stop signs out of all deez doggone shot all up to hell spilt-rail fences!'

    Those RTC Stop sign posts are especially beautiful to look when covered in late summer pigeon poop.

    The RA beautifier that signed off at the time on this ridiculous third world traffic design element of RTC ought to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

    Not to worry. I have all the confidence that the RA will continue to insist on the highest standards of classy non-ugly design for RTC.

    1. Reston Association has absolutely no purview over anything at the Reston Town Center. Those are two completely separate entities. Get your facts straight.

  4. RTC is not part of Reston Association.

  5. True, but the Spectrum and the Reston Times building are. That's why this building had to be approved by the DRB and Reston P&Z, and why the RA wrote this letter.

  6. The 23-story building doesn't bother me at all. The block monstrosities completely surrounding it seem to be a bit of overkill though.

  7. Jurisdiction in this area is far more complicated than people realize. RTC is not in RA and neither is Spectrum. The Reston Times Building (aka Town Center Office Building) is in RA.

    RTC has it's own association called RTCA with its own DRB. (Actually, it has 2 - RTCA and Reston Urban Core Association, but I have no clue how they interact.) In some sections, RTCA extends beyond Baron Cameron and includes Spectrum. BUT Due to some carve outs, the Reston Times Building is in RA territory and subject to our DRB.

    At least for governance purposes, let's just say the government center/INOVA/Sunrise is a gray area. For master planning/zoning purposes that tract is considered Town Center North. I could go on.

    As far as I am concerned, I believe the RA Board should at least consider any project likely to have a substantial effect on quality of life for RA members no matter where it floats in the alphabet soup that is our dear Restonia. That's why I raised this issue with the Board and I'm glad we took some action.

    Mike Collins
    North Point Representative
    Reston Association Board of Directors
    mobile: 571-969-4903

  8. South Reston RefugeeMay 7, 2012 at 11:33 PM

    Mike, you are just another NIMBY whether you accept the term or not. Density is the name of the game for the 21st century Reston. There is literally nowhere to go but "up" and more density will come to all of Reston very soon now. Blame those who accepted "smart growth" as the New Normal. That means way more population loads clustered together (yes, even in desirable North Reston). As for the Town Center and Spectrum areas, I suggest maxxing it out completely, so it will have the population density needed to support transit.


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