News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Forget Paris: Tysons Now 'The Emerald City'

If you repeat something enough, maybe it'll become true! Well, when county officials looked at the jumble of concrete and orange construction cones that are Tysons Corner and tried to call it Paris, that, um, didn't quite work. So the boffins behind Tysons' "brand" have gone back to the drawing board:

“Everybody knows this can become the Emerald City of Oz,” said Caplin, the head of the Tysons Partnership group of businesses and other stakeholders. “It’s got the potential. It’s going to be dazzling.”
How's that going to happen? Carefully executed urban planning in which county officials hold developers' feet to the fire and insist on a proper balance of design and amenities to create dense but livable urban space clever marketing!
Caplin’s sights were fixed on a plain gray wall in the middle distance, where he plans to convert a vacant parcel of land near the Tysons Galleria mall into a makeshift town square.

The wall is where lights beamed from the hotel roof and two nearby buildings would converge into a giant work of art, he said. The tops of surrounding buildings will also be bathed in light for what Caplin described as “that big ta-da moment” for Silver Line riders arriving from Washington.

The stagecraft is meant to gloss over what many still see as a soulless landscape of concrete and asphalt, with potential new headaches approaching.

The Post tactfully compared this and other projects to something "out of P.T. Barnum's playbook." But this guy's not alone in trying to deal with another problem that's marring Tysons' Parisian Oz-like aesthetic:
There’s the aesthetic problem of the elevated Silver Line tracks themselves, which turn toward Reston on massive gray concrete pillars that loom over Routes 7 and 123.

Now that they’re up, the tracks are such a “tangle of concrete” that they may deter people from moving to Tysons, said Sol Glasner, general counsel of the Mitre Corp., a nonprofit government contractor that recently broke ground on plans to build an office tower and a parking garage in Tysons.

Sharon Bulova (D), chairwoman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said she is arranging a meeting to discuss ways to make the pillars more appealing.

“When I first saw the Silver Line infrastructure go in, my heart sank and I thought: ‘Ack. Why didn’t we do something with the concrete to make it more attractive?’ ” Bulova said. “I would like to think that Tysons is going to be a great city, and all great cities incorporate aesthetics and incorporate beauty into their community.”

Caplin hopes to decorate the pillars — cascading colors, perhaps — but Metro officials have demurred on doing anything with them, though they plan on installing art at the four Tysons stations, a spokeswoman said.
Decorated pillars sure sound classy to us!

To be fair, we kind of liked this one idea:
Some of his ideas have fallen flat — like the one in which he tried to persuade a Metrorail official to allow someone dressed as the Lone Ranger to pass out phony silver doubloons to passengers as a way to promote the arrival of the Silver Line.

“She looked at me and said, ‘People under 40 don’t know who the Lone Ranger is,’ ” Caplin recalled. “I was so bummed out.”
We'd suggest this instead to promote the unique Silver Line aesthetic in Tysons:

The combination of irony and musicality would get those Gen X punks on board, that's for sure.


  1. Don't worry, the teenaged reprobates of Fairfax County will tag the pillars with their gang signs soon enough.

  2. Wow. If Tyson's Corner has as many Munchkins as the Land of Oz did, maybe they should consider putting aside some space for a Bowling Alley.

  3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

  4. What do people expect out of a concrete jungle? They were warned and underground could have been "cost prohibitive" yet better LONG term. Now it's too late! It will be there for quite some long time............

    1. "Cost prohibitive" means exactly what it says, non-ugly or not. Tysons Corner is a complete mess, even with a makeover.

  5. Speaking of Munchkins, several of the concrete support pillars along the road at Logan Airport in Boston are shrink-wrapped to look like drink cups from Dunkin Donuts. Classy idea, eh? You're welcome, Tysons Corner!!!

  6. Thanks for the MammariesJanuary 25, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    Forget Caplin's plan to shine beams of light onto a wall to create that "big ta-da moment" for arriving Silver Line riders. Instead, put a Hooters there so Silver Line riders can have a "big ta-ta moment" when the unwashed hoi polloi from Washington arrive in Tysons.


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