You'd be excused for thinking this is an extremely optimistic rendering of the old, zombie-infested Hunters Woods Village Center, or maybe what planners in Old Blighty thought their own dystopian "new town" might have looked like if it wasn't in a country where it rains 340 days a year. But this is actually the first whack at what planners envisioned for South Lakes Village center, way back in 1977. We had no idea!
Note the smaller separate parking lots divided by the then-in-vogue pedestrian mall. Maybe in the midst of the energy crisis, planners thought people might be willing to walk to stores (at least on odd or even days). We know how that idea turned out, and so did planners, who ultimately went for the more traditional awesome strip mall style we all know and
The connection to the lake is the one element that remained in the final design. And for good reason.
The actual plastic fantastic plan. Save for the lake access, it's pretty much your generic strip mall, made slightly more Reston-y by adding a bunch of trees in the drawring -- the classic architect apology for designing something he or she knows is going to be ugly.
And here's the final product, photographed sometime in the 1980s.
We get that the strip mall design is what's been proven to work, even in fancy New Urbanist Reston, where even the strip mall that isn't visible from the road has suffered. But we still would have enjoyed walking around Plan A a lot more, at least while there were actual viable businesses there.