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Reston Regional Library (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Reston Regional Library is slated for a complete renovation as part of the overall redevelopment of Reston Town Center North.

But after the potential RTC North developer unexpectedly withdrew from the project last year, Fairfax County is now looking at making some interim upgrades to the library at 11925 Bowman Towne Drive. The improvements are expected to extend the building’s lifespan for the next seven to ten years.

“While the planned future Reston Regional Library is still in the land acquisition and design phase, this brief and necessary refresh will enhance library visitors’ experiences and complete important facility modernizations to ensure that it remains useable, clean, and safe for the duration of the building’s lifespan,” Fairfax County Public Library Deputy Director Kevin Osborne told FFXnow.

According to a permit application, the library’s bathrooms will be demolished, removing the existing floor, tile, toilets, toilet partitions and lighting. The renovated bathrooms will be up to county standards, including automatic flush toilets, LED lights, hand dryers and drinking fountains.

The redesign is also intended to minimize “unwanted behavior” by removing doors and improving lighting.

FCPL also plans to replace the library’s front and rear entry carpet. LED lighting is planned throughout the building to reduce the library’s energy costs and increase its light levels.

There’s no established timeline yet for when construction might begin, and Osborne noted that the scope of the interim renovations might change.

RTC North’s redevelopment lost steam when developer Folger-Pratt pulled out from the project in February 2023. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors then created a task force to come up with a new plan and asked the county executive to expedite a land exchange with Inova Health System to move the project forward.

Inova owns parcels in RTC North that are currently developed with an emergency room, the North County Human Services Center and Sunrise Senior Living.

The redevelopment project will replace the library and the Embry Rucker Shelter, which will be supplemented by affordable housing. The RTC North task force released a plan in November that also recommended sites for a future school, athletic field and recreation center.

During a media call last week, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn reported that county staff and Inova “are working to start pulling together the documentation” needed to submit a zoning application for the redevelopment.

Designs for the new homeless shelter and library will be shared with the task force for feedback, he pledged.

“That’ll be the next step, but there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes,” Alcorn said. “Frankly, I’m pushing the county because our new shelter and that permanent supportive housing couldn’t come too soon, and the library, that’s important as well.”

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Reston Town Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

An arts-inspired Earth Day celebration is coming to Reston Town Center.

Organized by the Reston Town Center Association and Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art, the inaugural event on April 20 will feature a variety of activities, including a special art installation at the Mercury Fountain Plaza by Arkansas-based artist Danielle Hatch.

The installation, called “All Is in Motion, Is Growing, Is You,” is inspired by Reston’s origins and founder Bob Simon’s vision of community building.

“Art often serves as a lens to help us understand the world around us, and artists have the unique ability, through their work, to spark conversation around contemporary issues, including the earth, land, and environment,” Tephra ICA Executive Director and Curator Jaynelle Hazard said. “This collaborative event with RTCA presents a special opportunity to celebrate reverence for the natural world and the impact that art and artists can have in shaping sustainability.”

Hatch is expected to build on the installation with a performance during the Tephra ICA Arts Festival, which is scheduled to take place at Reston Town Center in May.

Other festivities include:

  • Curator-led tours of the “Pressing” exhibition at Tephra ICA
  • An environmentally themed concert with George Mason University professor Victor Provost’s steel pan ensemble
  • Afternoon art activations in Reston Town Square Park, such as poetry readings, a meditative sound bath, plant repotting and rehabilitation, printmaking workshops, community composting and face painting
  • A free screening of the documentary “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch,” with an introduction and post-film Q&A led by GMU professor Jeremy Campbell

The movie screening is sponsored by and will be held at Reston Town Center’s LOOK Dine-In Cinema (11940 Market Street).

RTCA Executive Director Robert Goudie says the Earth Day celebration aligns with the association’s desire to promote “art experiences that both enrich and educate.”

“We always welcome the chance to partner with Tephra ICA, a content leader in the DMV,” he said in a statement. “With support from Reston Community Center, ArtsFairfax, George Mason University, and LOOK Dine-In Cinemas at Reston Town Center, we think we have something that will capture the imagination and bring forward the importance of this day in a compelling way.”

An opening ceremony is set for 10 a.m. The event is free and open to all.

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Reston Town Center’s first solar panels are on the horizon.

Boston Properties (BXP) plans to install solar panels on top of the green garage in the town center, the property owner and developer announced Friday (March 15). The installation will feature a 1.3-megawatt solar photovoltaic renewable energy system.

“With great partners like our client and Ameresco we can transform a parking garage into a megawatt scale solar energy plant,” BXP Senior Vice President of Sustainability Ben Myers said. “This project  delivers social, economic, and environmental benefits over a long term by providing zero emissions clean power, competitive energy pricing, and covered parking for clients and visitors at the Town Center.”

The project is in partnership with Ameresco, an energy developer. It’s expected to provide an estimated 1.5 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy annually. Energy from the system will be used at Reston Town Center.

“We are thrilled to partner with BXP and their client on this exciting solar canopy project in Reston,  Virgina,” Ameresco Senior Vice President Jonathan Mancini said. “By joining forces, we are building a  solar solution that will empower the entire Reston community with greater energy independence and  reduced reliance on the grid. This collaborative effort is a shining example of how working together can create a more resilient future for all.”

The project is expected to wrap up construction by the end of the year.

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Reston Community Center at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston (staff photo by James Jarvis)

In the nearly 60 years since it was founded, Reston has become host to a variety of community and public entities with often blurred lines and responsibilities.

To provide clarity, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn wants Fairfax County to develop an inventory of Reston’s community-level services and infrastructure, including who is responsible for what services and infrastructure and how they are funded.

The move was approved with no fanfare at a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting today (Tuesday).

Alcorn said it is important to ensure that community-level services and infrastructure are sustainable.

“Last year, the Board of Supervisors approved the Reston Comprehensive Plan Amendment that will help guide our community growth into the future,” Alcorn said in the board matter. “With that process now completed, the next step is Plan implementation, and a review of Reston’s community-level services and infrastructure is an important step in Plan implementation.”

In some cases, organizations have assumed responsibilities above and beyond state requirements, such as cutting grass in and along Virginia Department of Transportation-owned streets, Alcorn noted.

Organizations that will be part of the inventory include Reston Community Center, Reston Association, Reston Town Center Association and the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee.

“As you can imagine, roles and responsibilities of these organizations are not intuitive to many residents, even for residents who have lived in Reston for decades,” Alcorn said, describing the collection of groups serving Reston as an “alphabet soup.”

Below is the full directive from Alcorn, which was unanimously supported by the rest of the board.

Board Matter
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn
March 19, 2024

Inventory of Reston Community-Level Services and Infrastructure

Background:
As our community approaches the 60th anniversary of the founding of Reston, the time is right to take stock of the community infrastructure that by many accounts, including a recent article in The Economist, has created a very successful community within Fairfax County. Reston currently has several important community organizations that are dedicated to creating a cohesive community experience. These organizations perform essential community-level services such as maintaining the trails and open space, providing camps for our kids, operating recreation facilities of all types, and hosting places for the community to gather. And in some cases, these organizations have assumed additional responsibilities as the Commonwealth of Virginia has devolved some of their responsibilities such as keeping the grass cut in and along VDOT rights of way.

These organizations now form a veritable alphabet soup in Reston – nonprofits like RA, RTCA, the YMCA, and county operations like RCC, FCPA, and NCS. And this does not even include advocacy and advisory groups like RCA, Reston P&Z, and the CHCCAC. As you can imagine, roles and responsibilities of these organizations are not intuitive to many residents, even for residents who have lived in Reston for decades.

For Reston to be the success the next 60 years it has been in its first 60, these community-level services and infrastructure must be sustainable – including financially. Last year, the Board of Supervisors approved the Reston Comprehensive Plan Amendment that will help guide our community growth into the future. With that process now completed, the next step is Plan implementation, and a review of Reston’s community-level services and infrastructure is an important step in Plan implementation.

Motion:
Therefore, I move that the Board of Supervisors direct the County Executive’s office to coordinate with the Hunter Mill District office to develop an inventory of Reston community-level services and infrastructure including those noted above, and to include who is responsible for those services and infrastructure, and how they are funded.

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Reston Town Center set up for the Tephra ICA Arts Festival (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A regional staple in the arts community is returning to Reston Town Center this May.

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art is organizing the Tephra ICA Arts Festival — formerly known as Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival — on May 18 and 19, bringing more than 200 artists from across the country to RTC.

“Tephra ICA Arts Festival has a long-standing reputation for excellence, yet every year we seek to hone and find ways of advancing its impact, audience reach, and onsite experience as a beloved community event,” festival director Hannah Barco told FFXnow.

This year, the festival will include thematic guided tours of artist booths and designated hours for artist demonstration.

Reston Town Center Association will also simultaneously launch its summer concert series — Reston Concerts on the Town — with a free public concert at the pavilion (1825 Discovery Street) on the night of May 18. Attendees will be able to take advantage of the association’s sip and stroll offering, which allow customers to drink alcoholic beverages from select restaurants within a pre-designated zone.

As in previous years, RCC will present a contemporary performance. This year’s selection is “Danielle Hatch’s All is in Motion, Is Growing, Is You,” a site-specific textile installation with an accompanying performance at the RTC Fountain Plaza. Both pieces draw on the founding of Reston, particularly the idea of the collection in the process of community building.

Volunteers can sign up online. Sponsorship slots are also available.

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The installation “Red Dirt Rug” by artist Rena Detrixhe, whose work will be featured in the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art’s upcoming “Pressing” exhibit (courtesy Tephra ICA)

The Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art is gearing up for its next art exhibition in Reston Town Center.

Scheduled for March 16-May 19, the exhibit, titled “Pressing,” features work by Kansas-based artist Rena Detrixhe and D.C.-based painter Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann. An opening reception and artist talk is set for Saturday, March 16 from 5-7 p.m. at Tephra’s gallery (12001 Market Street, Suite 103).

“Each of the works in this exhibition is a landscape — a vision of a place formed through careful observation and mark making,” Tephra Associate Curator Hannah Barco said. “And each artist’s departure from traditional modes of landscape painting offers a lesson in how to reconfigure our relationship to the natural environment.”

Here’s more from Tephra on the exhibition:

At a moment when much of the social discourse around climate change is politicized, reactionary, and focused on increasingly concerning storms, sea levels, fires, and heatwaves, Detrixhe and Tzu-Lan Mann create intricate and meditative works that reinsert slowness and contemplation back into the conversation about human impact on the environment. While the exhibition title points to the urgent need to address environmental preservation and climate change, it also refers to the gesture of a hand, an intimate touch, that as exemplified by these artists can have great significance.

Detrixhe’s work combines repetitive processes and scavenged materials to produce objects, installations, sculpture, performances and drawings. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas in 2013.

Tzu-Lan Mann got her bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree from the Maryland Institute of College of Art. She received a Fulbright grant to Taiwan and has exhibited across the world.

According to Tephra, “Pressing” will be presented in conjunction with “Double 194 Years,” a 2019 drawing by artist Steven L. Anderson that the gallery has loaned from the Microsoft Collection.

“Anderson describes his Tree Rings series as ‘a way of growing a drawing,’ mimicking the growth patterns of trees adding layers of bark season after season,” Tephra said in a press release.

The exhibition is supported in part by Lindy and Richard Brewster, ArtsFairfax, and Reston Town Center Association.

A nonprofit formerly known as the Greater Reston Arts Center, Tephra offers free admission to both its main gallery and a second space, Tephra ICA at Signature (11850 Freedom Drive). The main gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday, though Saturday visits must be scheduled in advance.

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Leslie Holt’s work “Perfect Night” will be on display at Tephra’s satellite gallery in Reston through June (courtesy Tephra ICA)

The Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art is launching an art exhibition featuring D.C.-based artists this week in its satellite gallery.

Restorative Gestures” will bring new work by artists Leslie Holt and Rose Jaffe to the Signature apartments in Reston Town Center from Friday, Feb. 16 through June 23.

According to Tephra ICA, Holt is an artist and educator with teaching experience at the college level for more than 15 years. She is also co-director of Red Dirt Studio, a warehouse studio for independent creative professionals in Mt. Rainier, Maryland.

Her previous work includes “Neuro Blooms,” a project that attempts to use mixed-media art to shed light on mental health conditions. The project has visited organizations and schools in Maryland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

A visual artist, Jaffe’s preferred media include mural painting, printmaking and digital illustration. She previously taught middle and high school art — a career path she dropped after pursuing art full-time.

She has painted more than 30 murals nationally and internationally, including 20 in the District. Her work often explores themes related to “political activism, natural healing, and spiritual grounding” to push for social change, Tephra ICA said in a press release.

Here’s more from Tephra on the work:

Holt’s Brain Stains, draped in the language of clinical technology, use emotionally resonant color palettes, PET scan imagery, and hand stitched text, to create expansive views of mental health conditions. A number of Holt’s works in the exhibition also draw from her personal involvement as a caregiver to her ailing parents at the end of their lives.

In a series of recent monoprints, Rose Jaffe explores her own journey of healing and thriving with stylized figures that fill the page with comfort and ease. The sensuous curves of the bodies along with growing plants and her vibrant use of color–including deep purples, bright greens, and radiant oranges–give these works a sense of jubilance and peace.

Together, the work from the two artists forms a restorative gesture that challenges common narratives of illness and recovery. This exhibition aims to inspire viewers to cultivate compassion for their own interior lives and the varied experiences of others.

The satellite gallery is open from Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s located inside the Signature apartments at 11850 Freedom Drive, where Tephra will host an opening reception and artist talk for “Restorative Gestures” on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m.

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Look Dine-in Cinemas at Reston Town Center (file photo)

A popular tradition for local cinema-loving seniors is returning to Reston Town Center this month.

In conjunction with Reston Association, Look Dine-in Cinemas will host “Senior Movie Day” for the first time since it opened at 11940 Market Street late last fall. The event offers free screenings of popular films for adults aged 55 and older on the fourth Wednesday of each month.

The event’s revival will kick off on Feb. 28 with a showing of “Downton Abbey: A New Era.”

In a statement, RA Director of Recreation Laura Kowalski said the association is excited to bring back the event in partnership with Look Cinemas and Reston Town Center.

“Not only has Senior Movie Day been one of RA’s most long-standing events, it’s also one of the most anticipated and popular all year,” Kowalski said.

No registration is required, and the event is free. Doors open at 9:15 a.m. for refreshments and socialization, followed by the beginning of the movie at 10 a.m.

The next scheduled screening will be “Top Gun: Maverick” on March 27.

Senior Movie Days were put on hold after Bow Tie Cinemas, the space’s previous occupant, closed in May 2022. Started in 1994, the program had attracted more than 100,000 patrons over the years, RA previously told FFXnow.

Look Cinemas opened up its dine-in movie theater on Nov. 1. The 11-screen venue is the company’s first and, so far, only location in Virginia.

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The Opportunity Way office buildings in the Reston Town Center expansion (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Global cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks Inc. will lease one of Boston Properties’ new office towers in Reston Town Center.

The company — which currently leases space at RTC West (12110 Sunset Hills Road) — plans to occupy 58,000 square feet of space at a 20-story office tower in Reston Town Center, the Washington Business Journal reported.

The new lease was signed on Jan. 12 for 58,000 square feet in the tower at 1950 Opportunity Way — one of two office buildings built in Boston Properties’ nearly 5-million-square-foot expansion, just north of the Reston Town Center Metro station.

According to the WBJ, the building at 1950 Opportunity Way will be close to fully leased with the Palo Alto deal. Other tenants of the paired office towers, which total 1.1 million square feet of space, include Volkswagen and Fannie Mae.

In a quarterly earnings call in late January, Boston Properties Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Michael LaBell noted that Reston Town Center is 94% leased.

“Because it is such high quality kind of a live work play kind of place, and these clients really, really value that,” LaBell said during the call. “So we’re outperforming from a rental rate perspective, and we’re seeing positive absorption there.”

LaBelle told investors that Reston Town Center had signed a “60,000 square foot new lease with a technology company” that’s relocating but didn’t name the tenant.

Originally approved by Fairfax County in 2018, the Reston Town Center expansion is planned for 4.8 million square feet of development on a 33-acre site northwest of the Sunset Hills Road and Reston Parkway intersection. Skymark Reston Town Center, a 40-story residential building, is currently under construction.

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The St. James Performance Club at Reston Town Center is closing (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The St. James Performance Club is shutting down its operations in Reston Town Center less than two years after opening.

The 25,000-square-foot athletic facility opened in April 2022, boasting 70 group fitness programs, turf areas, a sauna, a cycling studio and other amenities to its location at 11985 Market Street. It also added rooftop pickleball courts last summer.

A company representative told FFXnow that the last day of business is March 1.

“We have made the strategic decision to focus on the success of our Springfield, VA and Bethesda, MD, locations to meet the significant market demand we’re seeing while taking into account the changes in consumer behavior driven by the global pandemic and the new, persistent norm of remote work,” the company wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

The St. James says most employees in Reston will be given “other roles in the organization.” Members can still visit the company’s flagship sports complex in Springfield (6805 Industrial Road) and its performance club in Bethesda (6828 Wisconsin Avenue).

“The success of our flagship in Springfield and our performance club in Bethesda have created significant growth opportunities in the greater Washington region and around the country,” the company said. “We look forward to sharing more details regarding those exciting opportunities soon.”

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