Fairfax Design Workshop Calls for a "Green Ribbon" Along the Silver Line in Tysons

June 5, 2014

News Highlights

  • A “green ribbon” should run along the corridor beneath the Silver Line’s route in Tysons, say designers convened by the county.
  • Designers call for making this space more active and pedestrian friendly, including paths and pop-up retail.
  • Design concepts will require further public input, as well as from other regulatory agencies.

Fiber optic lights, wind turbines, and pop-up retail in recycled Metrorail cars could be in the future for the Silver Line’s bare, concrete trestles, bridges and areas beneath them.

These are some of the ideas imagined by more than 30 architects, landscape designers and artists convened by Fairfax County yesterday.

Their charge was to create a vision for how to turn the corridor beneath the new rail line’s route in Tysons into a more inviting, active place for pedestrians and commuters.

“The Tysons Metrorail stations are very attractive.  In between, however, there is a lot of pretty stark, bare concrete,” said Fairfax County Chairman Sharon Bulova who initiated this public-private effort. “I’m interested in exploring ways to make the Tysons infrastructure reflect the aesthetics, vitality, and energy that embodies what’s happening in Tysons.”

While the ideas sketched out are only conceptual, they were based on two core principles that evolved during the workshop. The architects and artists called for a “green ribbon” running beneath the rail line and creating more walkable, active spaces surrounding it.

The designers interpreted this vision differently as they worked on separate concepts for each of the four Tysons stations. Designs all incorporated landscaping and walking and bike paths. These features, along with kiosks or pop-up retail, would make the space underneath the rail line walkable and a destination.  

Beyond these common approaches, many unique ideas were proposed. One design called for wind turbines powered by the rushing air from passing trains, permeable pavers, and solar panels. It also included a 60-foot tall tower of recycled tires, rising higher than the Silver Line, to remember Tysons’ auto-centric past.

Others suggested lighted fiber optic cables to illuminate the Silver Line’s structures or changeable, nighttime lighting for the pedestrian bridges.

Before any designs could move forward, they would require further public feedback and input. The agencies that own and operate the new rail line and surrounding land will need to review them too, including Metro, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and Virginia Department of Transportation.

Private funders also would need to be identified to create and install any artwork.

The Arts Council of Fairfax will help to collect feedback from the public. The nonprofit will incorporate the design concepts into its Imagine Art Here project. To engage the public in a discussion on the role for art in Tysons, this project will install a portable artwork that will be displayed near the four station areas.

Before yesterday’s workshop, Chairman Bulova convened a working group earlier this year to consider what could be done. It consisted of Rohit Anand, a principal with the design firm KTGY Group Inc.; Doug Carter of BCS Design Inc.; representatives from the Tysons Partnership; Arts Council of Fairfax, Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and VDOT; and county staff.

The artists, architects and designers all volunteered their time for Wednesday’s workshop.

For more information, contact the Fairfax County Office of Revitalization at 703-324-9300, TTY 711.


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