With so much construction happening in Tysons currently, more than any previous year since the comprehensive plan was approved, the question of whether Tysons will continue to successfully develop has waned. Tysons will grow to become a significant downtown of it’s own merit, approximately twice as developed as Arlington’s R-B corridor is today.
It is very difficult to imagine that today because the early projects we are seeing are often further from existing development — and instead centered around metro access — and still at an infancy with regard to gaining a cohesive critical mass next to each other. Today these towers look isolated and reminiscent of their suburban office park neighbors, but taller. To those who haven’t been following along this may seem like Tysons hasn’t changed. The reality is that the setbacks and large gaps are a function of leaving room for dozens of more buildings to fill in what would have otherwise, in past eras, been parking lots or wasted space.
Although Ascent, Adaire, Haden, or Nouvelle look like the traditional skyscraper in the park of Corbusier, the design is indeed the exact opposite of that concept. What we perceive today is similar to perceiving a marble statue being carved at its early undertaking, unrecognizable and yet to take form. When we take a look at what developers have in plan — with approved rezonings, final development plans, and currently under review concepts — it becomes more clear what the final image and goal is meant to be. What are isolated towers today will be clusters of towers forming city blocks, connected by proper infrastructure, adjacent to parks and playgrounds.
Cynics will deride the above as pie in the sky or delusion, but every year that goes by, another half dozen to a dozen of those buildings shown in red, turn into projects under construction, turn into new occupied towers, and this massing of towers in of itself can help solve many of the barrier issues faced in Tysons today. This year we saw several such examples, and there is likely a couple more starts yet to come before the new year. Tysons continues to chug along on its new trajectory towards more sustainable and urban minded development.