News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, December 3, 2012

Flashback Monday: With a Steamshovel at Sunset, Our Gritty Urban Core Sprung Forth from the Earth

RTC groundbreaking.jpg

Last time on Flashback Monday, we witnessed the early days of Hunters Woods Village Center. Now let's set the controls of the Earth-Toned Wayback Machine to 1988, when a Reston newsletter used this extremely dramatic photo to illustrate the fact that ground had been broken for another, slightly more successful retail mecca: the Reston Town Center, which promised to "unify residential, commercial, cultural and retail life." Alrighty then!

Here's what the senior development manager for the project had to say about this mixed-use nightmare vision back in ought-take-away-twenty-plus-eight:
"Twenty-five years ago, Reston wasn't ready for it. Even D.C. wasn't ready for it."
But was Tysons ready for it?

We digress. For us, the biggest surprise was that the developers 1) didn't go Full Ugly, and 2) that their lofty predictions actually kinda-sorta came true. Check it, Mr. 1988 Developer:
"The first phase undertaken by Phase 1 Associates sets the stage for residential growth to occur later."
Old folks like us Long-time Restonians may remember that Phase 1 was initially surrounded by fields of parking, an ersatz block of a Potemkin city connected to nothing. Little did we know that the residential development would actually come in time, followed by flash mobs and baffling cultural landmarks and occasional semi-nudity and all the other things we've come to expect from an authentic urban experience. And frozen yogurt. Lots of frozen yogurt, with the occasional purveyor of artisanal cupcakes thrown in for good measure.

And, as this photo suggests, it all began with an arcane digging ceremony at sunset. Who knows, maybe the Necromonicon was involved, the end.


  1. Reston Town Center is absurdly ugly and one of the bigger mistakes made in our suburban paradise.

    Sigh. If only the earth would open up and swallow it.

  2. A jumble of building types, offices, retail, and parking garages, plus blocks of plug-ugly apartments that look like blockhouses. Better than nothing, I suppose, but hardly the cat's meow.

    Every developer claims to be building "town centers" these days. Yawn. Be still my beating heart.

    For a REAL town center/shopping center,checkout Fashion Island in Newport Beach, CA.

    1. Thought you might be on to something, but then I looked at a photo of Fashion Island. Acres & acres of asphalt parking lots in the "warm California sun." Looks like Dulles Town Center transplanted to SoCal. See this:

  3. Well of course there are parking lots--its Southern California, after all!

  4. Everything is bigger in TexasDecember 4, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    You want a "real" town center?
    Just google the Woodlands Town Center complex in Woodlands, Texas.


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