It takes a lot to turn a suburban sprawl mess into an urban community. Some changes are massive, like major transit connections or mixed use developments that take years to be completed. Others are tiny and on their own can be seen as unimportant, but without these hundreds of incremental smaller steps we only end up with a shallow urban fabric. One such step is the placement of signs and banners to let people know that they are indeed in Tysons.
A bit of plastic canvas hung on light poles may seem like a simple concept, but it takes a lot of time to get these kinds of changes approved by all the parties involved in reviewing public spaces. Obviously, by itself, the banners won’t solve all of Tysons problems, but adding some design depth and contrast to what is, in many places, a concrete and asphalt canyon, helps soften the neighborhood and give it a sense of place.
Yes, these kinds of improvements are not unique, they are tried and true to the point of cliche, but that fact does not discredit the benefits that come of it. Afterall, the reason why you often see this type of beautification project is because they are effective, relatively inexpensive, and provide a basic form of wayfinding.
The banners and median signs will be joined by a painted water tower, some new light art on a few highrises around town (more on that coming soon), and other art installation. Those minor improvements along with the millions of square feet under construction are helping fill in the identity gaps and cover the old concrete that was synonymous with the old Tysons.