News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, June 27, 2016

Flashback Monday: A Look Back at the API Building, Reston's Brutalest Brutalist Architectural Gem (Updated)

API above

Set the controls of the Earth-Toned Wayback Machine to January 1972, when this lovely rendering hinted at the arrival of yet another Brutalist batch of poured concrete in Reston. But at the hands of architect Marcel Breuer and his charcoal etchings, what would become the API building looked so... nice.

Not burtal

Flash forward four and a half decades. Now that the Fairfax County Planning Commission has acknowledged that fast-tracking an awesome townhouse development that would have demolished the now-vacant API headquarters without considering the building's historic pedigree was, to use complex land-use development terms, "a major screw-up," let's see what vast cultural treasures we'll be preserving for future generations if it becomes a library, or combination indoor boccedrome/dog park, or Hall of DRB Violations with an Eternal Flame of Approved Pantone Swatches, or whatever.

Lease sign

That "Lease" sign's been there for a while.

Check out the welcoming lobby, below. Concrete, glass, and some pretty scary office furniture.

Lobby leaves

Nice use of color on the wall to alternate between mind-numbing anomie and rage-inducing neurosis. But wait -- what's on the floor?

Leaves closeup

Leaves. Hmm. Not something you see inside your major office building/historical landmark, or at least the ones that the RA didn't decide to buy as fixer-uppers, but okay.


All these names of API's former, whazzitcalled, "news papers," are so quaint. In another 20 years, they'll be as inscrutable as hieroglyphics.

Indoor and out

Uncomfortable and dehumanizing meeting spaces both indoors and outdoors. Nice!

War room

Legend has it that Stanley Kubrick rejected this location for Dr. Strangelove because, in his words, "there's no tacky red carpeting in the war room."

No clue

What do these three images have in common? What's the significance? WE DON'T KNOW.

Update: Fancypants architects weigh in. Closer to home, Confidential Restonian Operative "Mary Anne" shared this photo from a recent excursion to the API building:


"Thought this was pretty cool," our CRI wrote. "Custom downspout that survived in good shape -- living among weeds and mildew." "I still have hopes for this building. Just the question of how much the space can be updated to get it look less like a WWII bunker."

If worse comes to worse and the API building meets its fate with the wrecking ball, perhaps the downspout can be repurposed. We have a feeling they might need it across the Toll Road at Lake Newport, the end.


  1. Those who don't know their past are bound to repeat it.

    Or something...

    This is fascinating and quite a bit nightmarish, like an abandoned nuclear launch control bunker. I'd pay $2 for a tour :)

  2. Bring on the new townhouses, as long as the future owners are RA members. We need more folks to pay for the ongoing tetra nightmare. There is no higher bidder waiting to rescue this uninteresting concrete block. The downspout will be missed.


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