News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, May 21, 2018

Metaphor Alert: Massive County Response After Lake Anne Parking Attempt Stymied By Pesky Depth Pole

For the second time in recent memory, an enterprising Reston driver made an at-speed decision to park in the wide-open (and still free!) parking area known as Lake Anne this weekend, only to be stymied by the depth pole at the lake's edge.

Naysayers and cynics might say that, despite the massive influx of traffic since the opening of the Silver Line, the county has done nothing to address a well-known dangerous stretch of road while their eyes pop cartoon-style out of their heads while making cash register sounds anytime the word "woonerf" is uttered. They may point to public proclamations such as "we can't stop development waiting for the roads to be built" as evidence of this claim.

But nothing could be further from the truth, silly rabbits! Feast your eyes on the immediate and substantive response to the latest in a regular series of crashes along this stretch of road, bypassing the usual design charrettes and environmental studies that make building, say, a pedestrian overpass take a decade:

Problem solved.

Friday, April 20, 2018

But Is It Art? Reston Awash In Fancy New Public Statuary

If you listened to people talk about what's becoming of our favorite plastic fantastic planned community in recent months, you'd think that we were in the midst of a relentless transformation into a soulless quasi-urban hellscape from which there's no escape (except via Metro, when it's not on fire). Silly rabbits, nothing could be further from the truth! Because of all that bollardy new construction, our lives are being massively enriched through the magic of improved infrastructure and services public art! Take our hands and follow us through a magical tour of why Reston is basically becoming like an outdoor version of the Louvre, only with a wider range of casual dining options.

First up, we have "Untitled," an art by Danny Lane currently being installed in the newly slenderized Presidents Park in Reston Town Center, within sight of the bloodthirsty Triffids. This bendy boi likes quiet walks in stressful city-like shopping centers, midscale chain retail shoppers who aren't afraid to cry, and "tapered, elliptical granite benches that mimic the line of the landscaped circle." But What Does It Mean?

Through his work, [Lane] contrasts the seeming fragility of glass as a material with the sturdiness of steel to create sculptures that are at once commanding and elegant.
It's a pretty An Art, to be sure, but art is in the eye of the beholder, and to us it symbolizes the twists and turns that would-be RTC patrons must make to decipher the paid parking regulations at our favorite fake downtown.

But wait, there's more! Called "The Force of Nature," this strong boi by artist Lorenzo Quinn can be seen hanging out in our favorite "Civic Plaza" at the Wiehle-Reston Metro station, replacing our previous favorite, if oddly sexualized, An Art there. But What Does It Mean?

“We humans think of ourselves as supreme beings, above all others and in absolute control of our destiny and our surroundings. We live with a false sense of security only to be awakened by Mother Nature’s fury, almost as if she needs to remind us of her presence and our responsibility towards her child (The Earth).

After having seen the ravaged coast of Thailand and the Hurricane that affected the Southern States I decided to create a sculpture dedicated to Mother Nature. This would be reminiscent of the early statues made as peace offerings to the Gods in the hope of quenching their anger.

In essence, people are not very different today from the people who lived thousands of years ago. We still devote ourselves to symbols in order to escape our destiny.”

To us, it looks like the figure is trying to heave a cannonball into one of the glass-filled parallelograms that surround it, or maybe clear some space in the line for Founding Farmers, but clearly we don't know our An Art!

Right across the street is yet another An Art. This round boi is called "Convergence," and its camera-like appearance is a tribute to the name of the apartment building it sits in front of, the Aperture. Created by Reston artist Zachary Oxman, who also sculpted Lake Anne's Metal Bob Untold Stories, What Does This An Art Mean?

Oxman describes his sculptural works as “allegories,” illustrating emotions and intangible impulses through story. Convergence uses the metaphor of a camera for the convergence of the intangible becoming tangible, the idea or inspiration becoming reality and perfectly suits the vision for Aperture where it is installed. The aperture of the lens reveals a crouching figure while the highly polished steel dome back of the sculpture reflects the building or anyone standing in front of it.
Does it reflect even more wacky changes of materials and claddings on the building than it actually has?

But our favorite An Art? The one that's replacing a legitimate piece of art.

Called "The Portal Seats of Memory," by Reston artist Marco Rando, these concrete blocks in the midst of a construction zone are a (legitimately) decent tribute to the work of architect Marcel Breuer, whose brutalist API Building was razed over the protests of preservationists for a buncha townhouses. But What do these blocky bois Mean?

The Portal Seats of Memory is a series of five sculptural stools cast in concrete to be aligned corner to corner. The intentions supporting the work are to commemorate Marcel Breuer’s design of the API building and his earlier contributions to the world of Architecture and furniture. The sculptural stool form is derived from Breuer’s repetitive use of trapezoids in many of the window (portal) designs of his buildings. The cast concrete process was used to form these architectural elements. Breuer’s noted Brutalist style embraced the natural concrete finish accentuated by essential form. Marco Rando’s intention is to use the same method and process to achieve form on an ergonomic scale. All but one stool are imprinted with the API Building footprint and the other stool will have a quote by Marcel Breuer on one side and the address of the API Building on the other.

Five seats are representative of the five physical senses, and the act of sitting ultimately engages the use of memory.

No word if the developer is going to commission, say, a display of pastel Swatches to "engage the memory" of the 80s masterpiece it razed right next door.

What's interesting is that each of these projects was funded by the developers of the sites that they sit on -- Boston Properties, Comstock, Bozzuto/Veatch, and Sekas Homes, respectively. Good on them for enriching the "built environment," as us sophisticated observers of public space filthy "web loggers" call it, even as it gets a lot more built.

Friday, April 13, 2018

When Transit Oriented Development Gives You No Infrastructure, Make Transit Oriented Lemonade

Confidential Restonian Operative "Robert" sent us this cellular telephone photograph taken on the outskirts of Reston Town Center, near Bluemont Drive and the Hyatt Parking Garage. Aw, it's nice that they put up a sign to warn passing motorists about pedestrians. But wait, what are those flags?

In case you can't read the concise, user-friendly instructions for which RTC is deservedly famous, our favorite stressful, city-like shopping center has come up with a cunning plan to keep their less elite patrons -- the ones who show up on foot or (shudder) bike instead of paying a completely reasonable price to park -- from being run over before getting to enjoy a premium midscale chain retail experience. That's right, silly rabbits, they literally want people to pick up a cheap plastic flag and wave it at speeding cars as they cross the street, then return it to a receptacle if once they make it!

This may be the last post ever on this filthy "web log." We couldn't possibly top this.

In TOTALLY UNRELATED news, there's no truth to the rumor that Fairfax County is scheduling the first of fourteen public impact hearings about potentially replacing the proposed W&OD trail pedestrian bridge across Wiehle Avenue with a similar bucket-o-flags, although preliminary design studies won't be completed until early 2022. "We can't stop development waiting for a handful of 49 cent plastic flags to be bolted haphazardly onto an existing signpost," a county planning official didn't say, probably, the end.

Update: This inspired piece of poetry, from our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Split Ticket: RA Board Election Pulls One Winner From Each 'Slate'; In Other News Dogs and Cats Expected To Start Living Together (Updated)

The RA Board elections are now over, and there's something to please everyone backers of each "slate."

Among the winners were incumbents Sridhar Ganesan (Sharks 4 for Reston) and Julie Bitzer, as well as returning board member Andy Sigle (Jets Alliance for Better Reston) and newcomer Ven Iyer. In case you're counting, each of the four-candidate slates succeeded in electing one person, a .250 average (pretty great for baseball, maybe not so much for golf?)

Highly relatable rezoning humor aside, as predicted, all the vitriol the Internets could muster for the contested seats did not result in massive turnout (PDF). The two at-large seats each drew 19 percent turnover, on par with last year's more genteel election, while the contested South Lakes seat did slightly better, with 23 percent of eligible households casting votes.

While we're happy that multiple people were willing to face a bunch of largely undeserved grief for what amounts to a thankless job, neither 4 for Reston nor the Alliance for Better Reston achieved their shared goal of world HOA domination. What does this mean for our plastic fantastic real estate development? Will the two slates put down their... um, chalk, metaphorically speaking, and work together against the very real issues Reston faces? It seems like there's a fairly common understanding of what the Board needs to do (not buy any more leaky lakefront property, and just maybe take a leadership role nudging county officials on development issues), so we're assuming all will be fine.

The new board will meet for the first time Wednesday, but in a RESTONIAN WORLD EXCLUSIVE, we have footage of the meeting as it just might happen:

Update: And now, another seat is available on the board. Hunters Woods/Dogwood Board Member Victoria White resigned Wednesday after moving out of her district. But no fun election this time! Interested candidates can apply at the link by May 11 and will be selected by the RA Board.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

BREAKING: Late Stage Capitalism Manifests Itself In North Reston Retail Node

Please to be enjoying this totally normal cellular telephone photo of suburban wage slaves voluntarily spending a bitterly windy night in Reston's North Point Village Center in heady anticipation not of spiritual enlightenment or a shared cultural experience, but free chicken sandwiches. Not since the heady days of Targetville have we seen so many campsites conveniently located next to a retail node.

Savvy critics of late-stage capitalism will draw much meaning from the symbolic occupation of the "drive-thru," calling it an unconscious manifestation of our collective fears of a post Peak Oil landscape in which our car-centric suburban way of life will be replaced by something far simpler, perhaps even antediluvian. In reality, though, the positioning of the tents has more to do with FREE CHICKEN SAMMICHES ZOMG.

And for the second time in a month, FAKE NEWS has reared its ugly head when it comes to Restonians' spontaneous demonstrations. Consider this photo purporting to be the North Point Shopping Center:

We don't know what godforsaken suburban retail node this photo was taken in, but the overhead power lines are a dead giveaway. Capitalism certainly has its benefits (FREE CHICKEN SAMMICHES), but at least the communists knew how to airbrush out inconvenient details in their photos, the end.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Will Lexus Lanes Mar Reston's Ford Focus Future? Almost Certainly

Even as economists wring their hands and warn of the imminent hellish dystopian economic hellscape in which Reston residents will be forced to drive Ford Foci, plans are in the works to jack up tolls on the Toll Road introduce "variable-rate pricing," which has brought us awesomely disruptive high-tech innovations like $47-plus tolls on I-66, to our favorite E-Ticket ride to Tysons Corner, the Dulles Toll Road. Give us some cautiously worded verbiage, BFFs at the Washington Post:

Dulles Toll Road officials are eager to talk about an equipment upgrade that will bring the more than 30-year-old toll collection system into the modern age. The new system will allow drivers to pay by credit card and offer a self-service option for those who don’t have an E-ZPass transponder.

What McKeough and others are reluctant to tout, however, is how the $23.4 million upgrade will give the system the ability to charge variable tolls — such as changing prices based on the time or day or amount of traffic.

McKeough emphasized that no decision has been made on whether MWAA would move to a congestion-based pricing system.

“That is a policy question,” she said. “And I am here to talk about construction.”

MWAA board chairman Warner Session did not respond to requests for comment about the project or whether the panel was considering variable tolls.

The Post notes (with considerable understatement) that variable tolling "has generated criticism" because of high tolls in the so-called "Lexus lanes" on I-66, I-495, and elsewhere in the region. But not to worry, silly rabbits! This is the Toll Road we're talking about, and like Reston, it's special! For starters, it carries the "special" debt from building the Silver Line, which riled up a bunch of people who see mass transit, like other functional government services, as something they shouldn't have to pay for as they drive alone to their strapping-bombs-to-dolphins contracting jobs, but we digress.

What is extra special, though, is that the contract for the Toll Road "equipment upgrade" has been awarded to the same company that gouged developed the I-66 tolling process. So all demureness aside on the part of MWAA, it's a good bet that variable tolling will happen at some point.

It's important to remember that toll rates were projected to go up anyways:

The next projected toll increase — to $4.75 — for the main toll plaza and one ramp transaction — is scheduled for January 2019. By 2043, the rate could increase to $11.25; by 2048, the final year tolls are projected to rise under the current schedule, the rate would be $12.50, according to budget documents provided by MWAA.
Who knows, maybe the variable tolling will help spread out those increasing costs and mitigate congestion in a sensible way, just like it's supposed to. Or by 2048, maybe it'll be the dolphins who will be commuting to strap bombs to us, the end.

Monday, April 2, 2018

At Lake Anne, Sunrise and Sunset

For the first time since 2014, the anchor spot in Lake Anne Plaza's wavy brutalist J building will have a tenant.

New Trail Cycling has signed a lease for the former Lakeside Pharmacy spot, with plans to open this summer. "Come in, sweat, have fun and make meaningful connections," the website says. "Put down your phone, hop on a bike and let’s ride together."

WEB LOGGERS NEVER PUT DOWN THEIR PHONES, MY FRIEND, KILLER WORKOUT OR NOT.

At the same time, sad news for the Lake Anne community. Susan Moran Schram, one of the co-founders of Reston's Used Bookstore back in ought-seventy-seven, passed away in late March. Like Reston founder Bob Simon, she lived at Lake Anne Plaza and remained an active member of the community, including serving as a poll watcher.

Hats off.