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November 29, 2008 Charles Goodman, Reston Virginia, Virginia

Redeveloping Reston

The Washignton Post ran an interesting piece on Saturday about the impact of planned redevelopment and construction of three Metro station in Reston, founded by developer Robert Simon in 1964 as the country’s first modern planned community.

“Reston –which famously pioneered the kind of walkable, environmentally friendly, mixed-use suburban neighborhood that is all the rage these days — is on the cusp of its own transformation,” writes Sandhya Somashekhar. “And some residents say they fear it could lose the delicate balance that made it a model.”

Pulitzer Prize winning architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable, in a 1965 front-page article in the New York Times, described Reston as “an attractive cross between an updated Georgetown and an Italian harbor town like Portofino.” Indeed, the village center was designed by James Rossant (who studied under Walter Gropius at Harvard University Graduate School of Design) to emulate the Italian coastal town. The village center (which has looked somewhat forlorn when I have been there) is slated to see new development, including more housing and stores.

The Post says that Simon, 94, supports change in Reston, but reports that “some residents say they fear that Lake Anne will be the first domino to fall in a chain reaction that would turn Reston into a traffic-clogged Manhattan. ‘We are not doing design that is in the character or quality of the original Reston,’ said John Lovaas, who has lived in Reston since 1975. He said he favors adding shops and residences to Lake Anne but thinks the current proposal is far too dense.”