Crystal City Vision Plan 2050

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Location: Arlington, VA. Inner-ring suburb of Washington D.C.

The Challenge
The principal design challenge posed by this project is to remake an existing urban center struggling to recover from obsolete urban design concepts. Initially developed in the early 1970s, this 260 acre Planning Area in Arlington County, Virginia has grown to include 25 million square feet of high-rise, mixed-use development. Characterized by super-blocks, a street network dedicated to the car, tower-in-the-park building placement, and pedestrian activity relegated to an underground retail mall, any notion of a public realm or sense-of-place is difficult to perceive or find. As a whole, the site reflects the anti-urbanist mindset of the modernist era, which failed to appreciate the value of an active street life and focused excessively on the convenience of automobile movement.

The Opportunity
This Planning Area, which lies just across the Potomac River from the monumental core of Washington D.C., is a well-established urban center within the Washington Metro area. It currently possesses numerous transportation options, including a Metro Rail station, a Virginia Railway Express station, a local and regional bus transfer station, as well as pedestrian and transit access to the adjacent Reagan National Airport. It is also at the juncture of a regional road network connecting Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The planning effort was initiated in response to recommendations by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, which resulted in a loss of 4 million square feet of office space leases. Despite the adversity of BRAC, Arlington County found an opportunity to transform a problematic urban center with a solid base of office, retail, hotel, and residential uses and in the process correct the mistakes of the past.

The Plan
Early in the planning process, a number of goals were identified in discussions with the Planning Task Force, the County, property owners, and the community's workers and residents, all of which found expression in the plan:

-shape well-defined public streets that provide equally for traffic and pedestrians, and are a great place to experience,

-Create high quality public parks that are accessible to all,

-Establish vibrant street-level retail throughout Crystal City that will be a major attraction to residents, workers and visitors alike,

-Calm and humanize Route 1 with expansive landscaping and building frontages along its edge,

-Fully integrate an easily accessible multi-modal transit system that links neighborhoods and communities within the Planning Area and the greater metropolitan region,

-Provide sufficient additional density to insure economic vitality and growth, while increasing the share of residential use to guarantee an active community life both during the workday, as well as nights and weekends.

Transect Zone(s): T6 core.
Status: Plan Approved
Project or Plan's Scale: District
Features: Affordable/subsidized housing, Bus transit, Civic buildings & parks, Live/work, Mixed uses, Rail/fixed guideway transit, Transit oriented development.
Land area (in acres): 260
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Total project cost (in local currency):
Retail area (in sq. ft.):
Office area (in sq. ft.):
Industrial area (in sq. ft.):
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work): 8800
Civic uses (type and size): Central Park, Police Station, Fire Station, Government Services
Parks & green space (in acres): 11
Residential types: High-rise, Mid-rise/loft, Live/work.
Project team designers: Project Consultants: Torti Gallas and Partners; Kimley-Horn and Associates; DMJ Harris| AECOM; EDAW; Economic Reseach Associates; Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates; Robert Charles Lesser & Company
Project team developers: Arlington County Board; Crystal City Task Force; Arlington County Managment Team; Arlington County Project Team, Anthony Fusarelli (Leader)

Previous site status:

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -