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Morning Poll: New Clarendon Metro Plaza

by ARLnow.com July 13, 2011 at 9:07 am 9,745 128 Comments

(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) Arlington County has released sketches of a planned revamp of the plaza outside the Clarendon Metro station.

The project, set to begin construction later this year or early next year, is intended to improve the currently under-utilized space by creating “an active, multi-use plaza to accommodate the farmers’ markets, music events, vendors and other community activities, while enhancing pedestrian access to Metrorail and transit.”

The improvements include new pedestrian paving, street and plaza lighting, “seating walls,” movable tables and chairs, covered bike parking, modular newspaper racks and a Clarendon Boulevard curb extension.

(Correction: Earlier we asked about whether a tree on the site should be saved. It turns out that the tree was recently removed. The photo we used of the tree was from a county presentation this month, but it was apparently taken before the tree removal. We apologize for the confusion.)

What do you think about the redesign plans?

  • JamesE

    The metro station doesn’t need a redesign, maybe they should redesign all the other stations as well.

    • FrenchyB

      They’re not redesigning the station – they’re redesigning the plaza above the station.

    • WMATA put up $301,471 total for this project, according to the funding section. Not sure why they think Clarendon’s Metro is worth that much. I’m sure some of the other stations actually need it.

  • YoBimbo

    Haven’t they done enough damage to Clarendon?

    • MB

      Yes, but we can’t get rid of Clarendon Ballroom and its patrons.

      • JamesE

        tactical nuclear strike on Mister Days

        • SaveDaveMcKenna

          +2 (stupid hat policy0

          • V Dizzle

            So do they allow stupid hats or they do not allow stupid hats?

      • YoBimbo


      • John Andre

        The Clarendon Ballroom is all right…on Tuesday nights when the swing dance crowd is there! However the rather rowdy crowds on other nights do not attract me there. Unfortunately Debra Sternberg has pulled the swing dance lessons for the summer [citing rental costs]; they’re set to resume September 13, Since the CB is owned by the guy who owns Eventide and Spider Kelly’s I don’t see it disappearing any time soon–unless the owner seeks to eliminate it by further “expanding” SK’s.

  • MW

    The park kind of looks like the outline of Manhattan. (if you squint)

    • Tre

      They should take it one step further and have scale Manhattan buildings as to signify a new hipster epicenter

      • KalashniKEV

        I really find it odd how no one here knows what a hipster is.

        • CW

          Yeah, exactly.

          The more appropriate thing would be to build a bicycles-only bridge across Wilson from the tip of the metro plaza to where Sette Bello used to be, then turn the Sette Bello location into PBR-and-flannel-only dive.

        • observer

          It’s not that, it’s that our local brand of, uh, whatever they are defies easy categorization. Not quite yuppies, not quite hipsters. The best term so far is Clarendouche.

  • meh..

    it’s a freaking PINE tree!
    They are a dime a dozen.
    And it’s not that attractive anyways….

    • JamesE

      She used the hipster polaroid iphone app taking a photo of it as well, just makes me hate that tree more.

      • JamesE

        but actually the tree should stay, as the whole redesign is unnecessary.

        • Jon

          Clearly whoever designed this has never stood out on a patch of concrete during weather conditions like… yesterday. Leave it alone, please. It’s hot enough there.

          • Guest McGuest

            What’s the matter, Jon, you don’t like watching waves of heat radiate up from pavement? What’s the matter with you?

    • doodly

      Location, dude. Pine trees are a dime a dozen in a pine forest. It’s the only one in that median.

      • Sully

        No, that tree was already removed.

  • Lou

    It will always be an over-sized traffic island. Very inhospitable and claustrophobic “open” space. Why can’t we have an Arlington version of the Flatiron Building?

    • doodly

      I like it.

    • Guest McGuest

      I used to sit out there and eat lunch when I worked near Clarendon. I did not find it inhospitable, nor claustrophobic. I found it quite pleasant. It never occurred to me that I sitting on a traffic island.

      • V Dizzle

        So you didn’t see the cars?

      • PghBigDog

        You weren’t… you were sitting in Central Park (real name of that “traffic island”)

  • Arrrrrlington

    God damn more construction to clog the roads around that spot. Even more of a case for me to never try and park in that area.

    • Josh S

      Yes, because all of this done with you in mind…..

  • steve85

    LMAO!!! She is concern about a pine tree. Get a life.

    • doodly

      I’m sure your yard is paved.

  • Nunya

    they do need more green.

    lou, the arlington flatiron is down at courthouse at the corners of vietch, wilson and clarendon.

  • J

    It would be nice if they fixed all the other sidewalks and streets that they re-paved/ finished and have already ripped up again before starting another new unnessary project. The amount of construction, dirt, trucks is out of control.

  • Nooooooo

    “curb extension for Clarendon Boulevard”

    Please stop with the innovative curb designs.

  • Clarendude

    It’s the Charlie Brown Christmas tree ! I thought this plaza improvement was supposed to be done already! They certainly have been talking about it for a long time.

    I think it will be an improvement. Especially like the compass rose and terrazo “Clarendon” at he top of the metro escalator.

  • outoftowner

    Those curved ‘seating walls’ don’t look very conducive for all the homeless nights that are bound to be spent on them.

  • yequalsy

    It is an awkward space for all that goes on there — farmers market, street fair, Clarendon Cup, etc. A more functional design is a good idea though at the same time I’m not thrilled at the idea of adding yet more in the way of impervious surfacing.

    • jan

      I agree. So let’s encourage them to use pervious pavements. The county does have guidelines on that option.

  • wat

    All I could think when I saw this was “why…” and “yikes”

    What Clarendon really needs is to add another row of fare gates. How does this station only have them on one side? What are there, a total of 6 gates?

    • CW

      Sentence #1: disagree. I like it.

      Sentence #2, however: Comment Of The Day.

  • G Clifford Prout

    Maybe they can find a place for the misplaced Bosque that didn’t arrive at Penrose Square.

    I want my bosque waaaa waaaa

  • Jay

    I like making it more open and functional, though does seem like a dearth of green. Where are the bike racks?

  • Rosslynite

    They should let Dr. Dremo’s build a bar on that island. That would actually create tax revenue rather than sucking it dry on this stupid project. No one could reasonably object to more beer, could they?

    • Clarendude

      A Tiki-bar with palm trees on the “island” would be awesome ! And fairly strange – which is what Clarendon was about for almost a decade between the Vietnamese era and the current era.

  • BerryBerryCold

    Maybe they can open the Latino office there?

    Although Ballston Metro would probably be a better location.

    Anyway, Clarendon doesn’t really have any parks, so what’s the loss of some non-used green space?

    Maybe they’ll narrow Clarendon and Wilson even further.

  • TuesdaysChild

    Bums will love it..

  • Kay

    More construction in that area to clog traffic and sidewalks to create an area that draws in even more people to clog traffic and sidewalks. Does curb extension mean losing a road lane? Will parking areas be lost to BikeShare docks? I understand the concern over losing such a mature tree, though does anyone really care about losing trees in other areas?

    I wish for a period of time when my eyes can’t see a single orange cone, plastic webbed fencing, temporary sidewalk, or construction sign. It would be the first step to world peace.

    • doodly

      Let’s just put a huge wall around Arlington and cap the population at today’s level.

      • steve85

        That’s stupid

        • Josh S

          It was sarcasm.

        • samsonite

          Why? It’s what the GOP wants to do on the Mexican border, it can’t be stupid.

    • BerryBerryCold

      Curb extensions may or may not mean a lost lane, but they sure do encourage pedestrians to walk against a light even with traffic.

      • Society

        Actually the curb extension would take up the one parking space/turning lane and not a travel lane.

        • BerryBerryCold

          and that “spot” is used by Transit police anyway.

  • Clarendonite

    The tree was cut down months ago. It is going to be hard to save unless someone can superglue back a lot of wood chips.

    I think the new plan is certainly more attractive than the current space that is rarely used and poorly maintained.

    • I’ve just heard from the blogger we linked to and she is being told the same thing. We’ve issued a correction. Thanks for pointing out, we apologize for the confusion.

    • samsonite



      Plant a new tree!

      • steve85

        For what

        • samsonite

          Beauty, shade, cooling the air…you know, the reasons we don’t just pave everything.

          • steve85


      • jan

        The new design has several trees and plots of grass.

  • Rosslynite

    What I find astonishing is that if you look at the project history, it appears this redevelopment is 10 years in the making. I think they are rebuilding Ground Zero faster. Only in Arlington.


  • Larchmont

    It needs a Beer Garden!

  • Clarendon Resident

    Worst. Idea. Ever.

    The green space that Arlington is so intent on paving over is necessary for sound absorption. This “enhancement” actually makes my neighborhood less livable.

    [Just what we need – amplified music to echo and re-echo in the canyon of buildings!]

    I loved the little park the way it was.

  • YTK

    Meh — NOT enough shade — just MORE areas to reflect the heat — WHY don;t they include large cement planters with TREES in them?????

    • Lou

      And people wonder why thunderstorms part over Arlington and give us no rain*

      *except for Donaldson Run

      • Rosslynite

        Thank you!

  • Engine No. 9

    It should be a dog park that doesn’t allow kids.

    • steve85

      No. What a horrible idea

      • Josh S

        steve, you’re new around here, aren’t you?

        • steve85

          No I’m not. Y do u ask that

          • Josh S

            The dog park that doesn’t allow kids comment I think was a reference to a long comment thread about a month or two ago about a proposal to prevent kids from being at Arlington dog parks without an adult escort.

          • YTK

            Yeah great — dog park with doodoo-esque grass to sit on during your lunch hour.

    • Tre

      It should be an adult park that doesn’t allow kids.

      • JS

        so, a beer garden

        • chickenswantbeer


        • samsonite

          You haven’t been to Westover lately, have you?

          • Rosslyn Boom

            westover market is dump. the quality of there food is piss, devon is high all the time, sad store.

  • Greg

    It needs a lot more green. I think when designers get lazy they just put concrete or brick over everything to make it look nice and clean in their drawings.

    It’s crap!

  • Vik

    I’m glad they’re redesigning the plaza. It can be a lot better. It’s not green enough now, IMO, where it makes a difference if they get rid of some trees in order to make the plaza more inviting and better utilized.

  • Arlingtron

    Anything that makes the space better for citizens, visitors, and businesses is an improvement. Currently, it seems to be a bedroom for our homeless community. The mounds of lawn look good now but don’t allow much flexible use. I second the use of pervious pavement. A flat lawn would be good too but may not be easy to maintain. I proposed modifying the on street parking to diagonal spaces. More density and easier to park but not sure if presents a hazard when backing out into traffic. I would like to see the lighting plan that hopefully incorporates solar/led fixtures that would make it more attractive and safer at night. Where are the covered bike racks? It would be good to have more focus on the Arlington War Memorial presently ignored on the west end of the area. I wonder how long those movable tables and chairs will stay.

  • BerryBerryCold

    From the rendering, it does kind of look like they are taking one of the two southbound highland street lanes away. Right now there is a left only lane and a thru (straight) lane.

  • charlie

    the pictures are nice. but they don’t show;

    the newspaper boxes
    the ugly streetlights
    the bike racks next to the bike storage lockers
    the electrical power boxes in the middle of the sidewalk
    the sewer manhole cover.

    will all of these be gone?

    and i heard that the ONE THING that makes METRO stations recongizable — the marble concrete walls — are also going to be removed. You’ll have no idea it is a METRO station.

    • Rosslynite

      Of course you will know it is a Metro station; the escalators will not be working.

      • Wonderer

        Ha! Which is under repair more, I wonder, the Arlington brick sidewalks or the metro escalators?

    • CW

      Legitimate point. Now I’ll constantly be confusing it with all the other giant holes in the ground with humongous glass-and-metal coverings, broken escalators, and square-columned metro station signs in front of them.

  • SaveDaveMcKenna

    Given global warming, one section should be water jets coming out of the cement to keep us cool. And/or hook up a hose to the War Memorial Cannon.

  • OX4

    Let’s cut down the trees to make room for our organic farmer’s markets!

    • steve85

      How about NO!!

      • atown

        I think that was a joke… it’s kinda funny to say cut down trees for “green” events… but you’re cutting down trees. I could be wrong, but I think that’s what they were getting at. 😉

        • steve85

          I was saying no to bring the organic market there. That would waste the open space. Dumb idea

          • samsonite

            You realize that there is already a farmer’s market there, right Steve?

          • Calibrator

            Dude – your sarcasm detect-o-meter is in need of some serious recalibration.

  • Blah

    It’s not the prettiest design I’ve ever seen but it will be functional it seems. If this area is going to be used for Farmer’s Markets, music events, community events etc the large slab of concrete actually seems to make sense. If it were all grass or even more grass then all that “green” would end up being large dead patches of dirt with everyone walking on and killing the grass.
    The pavers look to be Redskins colors, is Daniel Snyder somehow involved in all of this?

    • My reaction exactly. Not exactly a design to get excited about, and I bet all that unshaded flat concrete will bake on hot summer days like today. But hopefully it’ll be what happens on top of it that makes it lively.

      • samsonite

        You mean Clarendouches vomiting on the concrete after a night of douchiness at Mr. Day’s?

  • My main issue is that without the tree cover that section in the middle is just going to get overly warm. The grass and trees would have absorbed some of the heat, but the concrete without cover will just melt anyone who actually wants to sit there on whatever tables they put out.

  • John

    Architect Harry Weese’s design is compromised by the removal of the granite paving that immediately surrounds the station entrance. Weese was the architect of DC’s iconic Metro system. The light-colored paving provides an understated transition to the granite walls of the entrance–a design theme common to the metro escalator entrances. The light granite alludes to the monumental qualities of the Nation’s Capital.

    Let’s not mess with another architectural landmark. The plaza redesign should not interfere with the granite paving, which should be preserved. Clarendon has lost many of its landmarks over the years. The station entrance dates to 1979, so while not eligible for historic preservation, the architectural integrity of the station entrance should be taken into consideration.

    • First strip malls, now nondescript waist-high walls? Is there anything Arlington’s historic preservation crowd thinks is NOT preservation-worthy?

      • John

        This isn’t a strip mall. It is a design by an internationally recognized architect. And it is an essential part of every Metro entrance. Why spend money on altering it? The plaza redesign as proposed can still surround the Metro entrance.

        • samsonite

          John, you misread Miles’ comment. He’s referring to historic designation of strip malls.

          • samsonite

            Or maybe I misread your comment!

            The point is that yeah, this isn’t a strip mall – it’s even less than that. It’s a wall.

        • It makes historic preservation look silly when people go around making waist-high stone walls seem like the Pyramide du Louvre.

          And yes, strip malls are included in the “essential” preservation list: http://thegreenmiles.blogspot.com/2011/06/arlington-to-deem-old-strip-malls.html

          • John

            I was just informed that the published renderings are not the most up to date. Metro has instructed that the new plaza should not interfere with Harry Weese’s design. So the granite will not be removed around the escalator and elevator entrances.

            In response to the above comments: I’d take an attractive “nondescript waist high wall” designed by a world famous architect over a remodel by an unknown designer any day. And Clarendon gets some bragging rights as well.

          • Stu Pendus

            Good for Metro.

          • Bragging rights for a waist high rock wall?? Arlington historic preservationists absolutely nuts.

          • John

            It’s the whole ensemble not just the granite paving or walls. The entrance pylon, the granite, the canopy… and the interior vaulted spaces, etc. All the pieces fit together and work quite beautifully. The architectural design helps to brand Metro, and altering it for no good reason serves no purpose. Metro has made the right decision in not allowing unnecessary alterations.

            Metro spent a lot of money on hiring an internationally respected architect in the 60s to design it’s subway. They could have gone the cheap route, with engineers as designers, but they wanted an iconic architecture. Removing the recognizable entrance features to the Metro stations is nuts. The issue is not so much historic preservation as it is common design sense.

          • Stu Pendus

            If you don’t like it, I guess you have a couple of options: A) MOVE B) buy it yourself.

          • samsonite

            He’s got a point, GreenMiles – the wall is part of the overall design. Historic preservation means preserving all elements, not just the ones you cherry pick.

    • steve85

      Sorry but u do know nothing stays the same. That’s what makes life interesting. Out with the old in with the new

      • John

        Let’s build the plaza, but there is no need to spend money on pulling up the granite paving that immediately surrounds the escalator entrance. Why mess with something that works? The park that surrounds the station has always been underutilized, and the proposal addresses its shortcomings. But there is no need to alter the Metro entrance itself. That part of the redesign should be abandoned.

  • Josh S

    At first glance, I voted “liked it” but then have just now gone back and voted “don’t like it” because of the lack of green space. It’s not clear how this proposal improves upon what is there. The existing space perhaps could use some sprucing up but the overall layout is nice.

  • LuvDusty

    I live 1 blk from this area and while I don’t totally hate the redesign, it does not have enough shade. If they add more trees/cover I’m all for it.

    As for “concerts”…I assume/hope they mean during the day, and I second the comment about the “sound canyon” that has now been created down Clarendon and Wilson Blvds.

    On Thursday nights it’s so bad I can hear the drunk people leaving the bars, I can even hear them when they are just talking or laughing. Ugh.

  • Abe Froman

    I don’t see the point in this, when metro is losing money and so is just about every other municpality in the country.

  • Bob

    I hope they move the Courthouse Saturday farmer’s market there….

    • steve85

      Leave it there. Its awful anyways

      • Bob

        (That’s why I want them to move it to another neighborhood… At least in that “park” it won’t necessitate closing any roads like they do now(!!))

      • samsonite

        Don’t you just hate fresh fruit, vegetables and meat? Awful.

  • ClarendonGUY

    It looks like the 70’s got drunk and barfed all over the place! UGLY!

  • John

    It looks like there will be plenty of room for that future Capital Bikeshare location.

  • Senior

    The comments section seems to just be the area of one-uppers.

    Can there be a comments section and then a separate “schtick” comment area?

    • Schecky

      The “serious” comments can be found on the website of the Office of Latino Tree Removal.

  • KalashniKEV

    I’m in favor of green space- or at least some type of permeable surface. Once the housing project opens up across the way, that place is going to be one giant toilet for vagrants and wretched paupers. It’s going to look like Zombieland.

    • Toro

      You need therapy.

      • Buster

        Or, maybe just get out of his bunker once in a while.

  • Ballstonian

    How about some blackjack tables and some dancers, increase tax revenues for arlington county

  • Landshark

    It looks really hot. I don’t understand why shade-trees couldn’t have been accommodated. They would make it look more like a town square then the glorified traffic island that it will remain to be.


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