News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, July 16, 2012

Flashback Monday: Yet Another New Town from the 60s

You'd be excused for thinking that the entire "new urbanism" movement in the 1960s consisted of Reston and its Maryland doppelganger, Columbia, emerging fully formed from the heads of their respective developers. Not true! We've already visited a stunning example of urban planning from the same era in the Irish countryside, and now, we'll take a look at an even finer exemplar of the best of New Urbanism, ca. 1968:

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Cumbernauld New Town, Scotland -- not to be confused with the Reston in Scotland, which we're sure is a lovely place with... thatched roofs and, um, kilts, and whatever else you get in Scotland. But this stunning vista marries the brutalist adornments we've come to know and love with the massive building-on-a-windswept field look that Reston Town Center had in its early days. This looks like a black and white photo, but we can assure you that it's not.

Of course, the British do warm beer snark better than we do, so here's what a Blighty "web logger" has to say about this:
For a long time I wondered what this picture reminded me of. Now I have it - it's like the colony where Ripley discovers the little girl in Aliens. A bizarre mix of hospital crematoria and the Royal Festival Hall on stilts, bear in mind that this building was under 10 years old when this photograph was taken.
Much like Lake Anne, the "grossery" was at the heart of this New Town:

Amazingly, it gets better much worse:

We have no idea what they were smoking going for in this bit of building, but it's basically a Bizarro Terraset reaching inappropriately into the sky, only without the Mole People. Also, we're pretty sure that building in the bottom right got cited by their HOA for a paint color deemed "not sufficiently soul-crushing."

Now for some deja vu:

Not HW.jpg
This looks eerily like Hunters Woods in the bad old days, right down to the apocalyptic wasteland sort of feel limited foot traffic. Of course, maybe our Scottish planned community brethren would have done a better business serving drinks to people instead building a "fish and chicken bar," thank you, be sure to tip your waitress, we'll be here all week.


  1. Yikes. I'm speechless. Hideous. Just hideous.

  2. "For a long time I wondered what this picture reminded me of. Now I have it - it's like the colony where Ripley discovers the little girl in Aliens."

    I was thinking it looks more like the old, abandoned factory where the climatic shoot out of "Robocop" took place. You can almost see the nuclear waste tank that turns the one badguy into a melted zombie.

    1. I'd buy that for a dollar!

  3. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonJuly 16, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    When I saw that image of the "Bizarro Terraset reaching inappropriately into the sky", I first thought it was some new-fangled Metro subway car on the elevated section of the Silver Line in Tysons Corner.

    Cumbernauld...the only architecture that could possibly make Tysons Corner look good by comparison.

  4. Looks like Soviet, Orwellian, and like it rains all the time there. Lake Anne Plaza?

    Nice Robocop pull - I also pictured the dad from that 70's show brazenly torturing cops just doing their job. In a few years, they'll probably be selling nuke on nearby corners.

  5. The top photo looks like an architectural rendering for a publicly owned daycare center designed by committee through one of Cathy Hudgin's typical 10-plus years worth of endless repetitive public input charrettes.

    The supermarket structure reveals a more streamlined design process. It looks like a building jointly designed by Robert Simon and the ghost of Bauhaus founder, Walter Adolph Georg Gropius, after Bob dropped acid while listening to a Grateful Dead album being played backwarde.

  6. Isn't this just the set where they filmed the TV adaptation of Ray Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day"??

  7. Horrible as it looks, it does lay claim to Craig Ferguson as a native son. All Reston has is a strain of Ebola.

    Winner: Cumbernauld.

  8. This is where I imagine cabbage-patch kids and pound puppies come from.

  9. I honestly thought the first image had to be the "Before" image of, I dunno, like an abandoned British Leyland factory that they had to tear down to make the actual New Town!

  10. PAY THE MAN....To Anonymous at July 16, 7:01 pm---you win!

    Looks like something from the Rust Belt in Cleveland or Pittsburgh perhaps. Truly an abomination. Small wonder that Craig Ferguson was driven to drink during his life, coming from this place would do it if anyplace could!


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