At a time when everyone is glued to their smartphones, spontaneous, in-person interactions seem to be on the decline. But a new public art installation in Courthouse is hoping to buck the trend, encouraging people to talk to strangers and make new friends.
Created by the Spanish art collective, mmmm…, and presented by the county’s public art initiative, “Meeting Bowls” opened Monday (July 17), and will be in town until November 1, when the installation will be transported to its next exhibit, in Miami. The bowls are red, blue and yellow among other colors, and made from medium-density fiberboard.
The installation is part of Courthouse 2.0: Reimagining the Civic, a public art initiative that strives to explore the interaction between civic space and life in Arlington.
“They are on display in a public space and are free and open to the public to engage with as they pass by, take a moment to rest, have lunch, or converse with friends,” Jim Byers, the marketing director at Arlington Cultural Affairs, said in an email.
There are bowls located at 14th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road, each with seating for eight people. The bowls are five feet tall and eight feet in diameter, and look to spark conversation among their users through their circular seating arrangements. The bowls also mimic swings, since they rock back and forth when occupied.
Byers said the funding for transporting Meeting Bowls to Arlington and Miami came from a grant from the Madrid-based public arts agency Acción Cultural Española. Byers said Arlington Cultural Affairs also paid around $14,000 from its own budget.
Meeting Bowls first appeared in the United States back in 2011, in New York’s Times Square. Instead of shipping the bowls from Spain, new bowls were created in the U.S. with computer-aided manufacturing. Digital files of the more than 75 parts that make up a bowl are emailed to a regional manufacturer and made locally.
Spanish artists Eva Salmerón and Emilio Alarcón will host a discussion about the creations at the bowls on September 23 at 11 a.m.
‘Meeting Bowls’ Coming to Courthouse — A new, temporary public art installation is coming to Courthouse. Workers will be building 5-foot high “meeting bowls,” designed by the Spanish art collective “mmmm….,” and featuring an 8-foot long circular bench inside. The bowls, which are meant to be used by passersby, are expected to be completed by Monday, July 17 and will remain in place until November. [Washingtonian]
Pentagon City Residents Peeved by Shopping Carts — Legions of stray shopping carts are getting on the nerves of Pentagon City residents, NBC 4’s Julie Carey reported during a news broadcast last night. [NBC Washington, Twitter]
Scholarships Awarded to Wakefield Students — “The Wakefield High School Education Foundation recently awarded 27 scholarships totaling $201,000, bringing the total number of scholarships presented over the history of the foundation to 400 and the total dollar amount of scholarships and teacher grants to more than $2.25 million.” [InsideNova]
Local Author Pens New Thriller — Arlington resident Bill Schweigart, author of the Beast of Barcroft, a supernatural thriller set in Arlington, has penned another book of local interest: The Devil’s Colony, which features a fictional Arlington resident as its main character. [Penguin Random House]
Nearby: Montgomery Co. Consider Plane Noise Suit — Montgomery County, Maryland has hired a law firm to explore legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration in response to new flight paths that have produced a dramatic increase in aircraft noise complaints. The flight paths were implemented in 2015 as part of the FAA’s NextGen system and have prompted some complaints in Arlington and D.C. as well. [Bethesda Beat]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Rosslyn is getting a new $1 million, developer-funded public art installation.
The County Board on Saturday awarded a contract $968,000 contract to California artist Cliff Garten to fabricate and install “four stainless steel, LED-lighted Luminous Body sculptures” that will be placed on the four corners of the Lynn Street bridge over I-66, near the entrance to the Key Bridge.
It’s the second phase in a larger public art project to create a “Corridor of Light” down N. Lynn Street.
“This is an exciting project that will help us achieve our vision for Rosslyn,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a press release. “The ‘Corridor of Light’ is a beautiful design that will create a memorable public space for all our residents, commuters and visitors who move through this heavily-travelled corridor.”
“Garten was selected by a panel of specialists and stakeholders and his design was unanimously approved by the Public Art Committee and the Arlington Arts Commission,” noted the press release. “The artwork will create an easily recognized and iconic entrance to the County from Key Bridge, Lee Highway and westbound I-66.”
The project is being paid for developers, via “public art contributions pooled from various site plan projects in Rosslyn,” said Arlington Public Art Marketing Director Jim Byers.
Though the installation approved Saturday is considered the project’s second phase, the first phase — to be built as part of JBG’s Central Place project along Lynn Street — is still under development. Early plans for some 60 light sculptures have since, apparently, been scaled back.
“The middle section of Corridor of Light was reconsidered in response to right-of-way engineering challenges along Lynn Street,” Byers said. “The plans for the Central Place portion of the project are still in development.”
The third phase of the project is to consist of four “Luminous Body sculptures,” like those just approved by the Board, on either corner of the Meade Street Bridge over Route 50. Those will be built as part of a bridge improvement project that’s currently in the design phase.
On Saturday the County Board also approved transferring construction work on its Lynn Street Esplanade Project to the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.
County Offices Open for Columbus Day — Arlington County offices are open today during the Columbus Day holiday, but parking meters will not be enforced, according to the county’s holiday schedule. Courts, DMV locations and schools will be closed, while ART buses will run on a modified holiday schedule. [Arlington County]
Cyclist Cited for Eluding — There was a brief police pursuit of sorts Friday afternoon, involving a cyclist in the Courthouse neighborhood. “An officer activated his lights and sirens after witnessing the cyclist run a red light,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. ‘When the cyclist refused to stop, the officer rode beside him and attempted to make verbal contact with the cyclist. The cyclist eventually stopped and was released on two citations, one for the red light violation and one for eluding.”
Public Art Initiative Coming to Courthouse — On Saturday, Oct. 15, the “Reimagine Civic” public art initiative will bring “C_vic,” an interactive sculpture, to Courthouse Square near the county government headquarters. The sculpture has a space between the first “C” and “V” where members of the community can stand, in place of the “I,” and take a photo. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
An architect has been chosen to design a new pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston.
The existing bridge, which connects Ballston Common Mall with the Ballston Metro station, is set to be torn down as part of the redevelopment of the mall. Demolition work on the mall is expected to begin in June. The rebranded “Ballston Quarter” open-air shopping plaza and mall is slated to open in 2018.
Mall owner Forest City formally announced today that Cleveland-based studioTECHNE has been selected as the design architect of a new pedestrian bridge, which will replace the old one. The firm has recently completed two other pedestrian bridges, including one at Case Western Reserve University.
The bridge project is being paid for by Forest City, as part of a public-private partnership on the redevelopment project. In addition to the mall, Forest City is also building a new 22-story, 406-unit residential tower.
“We are very excited to begin the conceptual design process with so much wonderful public input” said Marco Ciccarelli of studioTECHNE. “Our aim is to blend this input into creating a significant piece of functional public art which will perform for the Ballston community in a high profile manner for many years to come.”
“It is our hope and intention that this replacement pedestrian bridge project will be a civic landmark in the Ballston community,” said Kris Krider, planning supervisor for Urban Design & Research at Arlington’s Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development. “We feel we have the right mix of creative talent and demonstrated skill involved to act upon the community input and tight timeframe for this component of the redevelopment of Ballston Common.”
Angela Adams, Arlington’s public art administrator, also weighed in.
“We are confident that this civic design exercise will result in an iconic structure and welcome addition to Arlington’s growing inventory of thoughtfully designed infrastructure,” Adams said.
The proposed new bridge design is expected to be presented to Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz for approval in June.
A one-of-a-kind art installation is lighting up Crystal City this holiday season, paying tribute to the community’s history with a high-tech twist.
Crystal City Lights is a 25-foot wide, 10,800 LED interactive “chandelier” now being displayed at the park at 2121 Crystal Drive. The installation is audio-reactive, meaning the lights and effects change based on whichever song is played through the system.
It’s also the only 3D pixel-mapped chandelier in the world, says project creator Imaginex, using custom-built technology. It’s made of weatherproof, UV resistant LED light strips as well as custom software and hardware. Much of the display was custom fabricated with parts made from a 3D printer.
“It was originally programmed for that fist-pumping, EDM music, but we slowed it down a little bit and made it more holiday-friendly,” said Alan Curtiss, Director of Research and Development for College Park, Maryland-based Imaginex.
The installation defaults to playing and interacting with holiday music, though visitors can download an app when they’re at the park and request to play their favorite songs.
“We have a color-changing palette tool that we created with our in-house software,” Curtiss said. “We put in an algorithm that changes both the color sweep and the shadow effect, so we don’t know what’s going to happen. It randomizes every day with different shapes and patterns.”
The display is the product of the combined efforts of Imaginex and real estate developer Vornado, which has been busy remaking the image of Crystal City by bringing in innovative tenants to replace older government and military offices that have been moving out for the past decade.
Incubators 1776 and Eastern Foundry now call Crystal City home, as does DIY workshop Techshop. Co-working company WeWork expects open its new Crystal City outpost in February, and is opening one of its first “WeLive” micro-unit apartment spaces in the same building later in the year.
As technologically advanced as the display is, the idea was inspired by Crystal City’s history, dating back to 1963.
The very first building in the area was called the Crystal House Apartments. According to a press release, the building of that lobby had an elaborate crystal chandelier, which was later the inspiration for name Crystal City. As the area continued to develop, it stuck.
The special LED chandelier display pays homage to those roots while inspiring some holiday cheer. It will continue to do so between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through February.
Church Squatter Arrested — A man who has managed to squat in the attic of an Arlington church for three years has been arrested and charged with trespassing. An air conditioning repairman discovered the man and his makeshift living space in the attic of St. Ann’s Catholic Church, near Ballston. [NBC Washington]
New Rosslyn Sushi Restaurant Close to Opening — Rolls By U, a new sushi restaurant at 1731 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, is getting set to open next week, after originally hoping to open last month. The restaurant will offer burrito-sized sushi rolls in addition to regular-sized rolls. [Washington City Paper]
Fundraiser for Former Yorktown Football Player — Friends have organized an online fundraising campaign for a former Yorktown High School football player who was injured in an incident that was caught on video. Josh Bunche was attempting a flip while tailgating at a Clemson football game, but he slipped and suffered serious facial injuries. [Patch, GoFundMe]
McMenamin Responds to Sewage Plant Fence — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Mike McMenamin has issued a statement calling the $350,000 public art installation along a fence at the county’s sewage plant “wasteful.” Said McMenamin: “Extravagant projects like this help drive up taxes in Arlington County, making it more costly to own a home or to start a business.”
County Touts Fully Funded Pension — Arlington County’s employee pension fund is now 99 percent funded, thanks to prudent management. While some other communities struggle with underfunded pensions, Arlington has now been able to decrease the percentage of employee compensation going to the pension fund, from 24 percent — about $58 million — last year to 22 percent this year. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
An assortment of pipes, wrenches, wheels and pink balls have been attached to the fence separating the Four Mile Run trail from the county’s sewage plant.
These items are part of an art installation by Dutch artist Tejo Remy and his design partner Rene Veenhuizen, who are known for their use of everyday objects to create works of art. The installation, which runs along the fence of the Water Pollution Control Plant on the 3400 block of S. Glebe Road, was completed in the middle of September, said Jim Byers, a spokesman for Arlington Cultural Affairs.
The display runs the length of the sewage plant, transitioning from a sea of pink balls and flat, blue objects to orange wheels and then a series of neon green wrenches and baby blue pipes. The piece starts with a lone pink ball.
“Remy and Veenhuizen’s design ethos stems from a strong industrial design background and building awareness about our connection to the environment,” Arlington Public Arts said in a press release. “Their innovative concept consists of more than 800 linear feet of brightly colored ‘widgets’ that reference the importance of microorganisms in the plant’s treatment processes and shaped fence panels overlaid on the existing fence to create a moiré effect reflecting the movement of water.”
The artwork is part of series of restorations and enhancements being made to the Four Mile Run area, which include work on bike trails and a new pedestrian-cyclist bridge. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held once all projects are complete, Byers said.
The County Board approved the project in 2012, and $350,000 was allotted for the fence display, which included a $30,000 contingency fund. The project has stayed within that budget, Byers said
“Funding for this Contract is included in the approved $568 million budget for the Master Plan 2001 upgrade and expansion project at the Department of Environmental Services Water Pollution Control Plant,” he said. “The total cost of the fence enhancement project is 0.061 percent of the total of the upgrade and expansion project at the Department of Environmental Services Water Pollution Control Plant.”
Update at 5:20 p.m. — This article has been updated to reflect a CEB spokeswoman’s request that we no longer refer to the company as “Corporate Executive Board.”
A ten-foot-tall, 1,300 pound “moon” has been gracing the Rosslyn skyline for the past two weeks.
The moon, which is illuminated with 936 LED lights, can be seen hanging from a crane that’s part of the Central Place construction project on N. Lynn Street. It was first lit up on Sunday, Sept. 13.
The temporary public art project is the brainchild of Brian Coulter, Managing Partner of Central Place developer JBG.
“[Coulter] and JBG team members worked with Los Angeles-based Custom Prop Shop, which created the prototype design and fabricated it from steel and a fibrous resin in a nearly year-long process from idea to installation,” according to a press release. “The moon will be suspended from the rear span of a Miller and Long Co. crane during construction, for about a year.”
Construction on the Central Place project is continuing at a steady clip. The development consists of CEB Tower, a 350,000 square foot office tower at the corner of Lynn Street and Wilson Blvd; a public observation deck; a 17,000 square foot public plaza; 45,000 square feet of street-level retail space; and Central Place Residences, a 377-unit residential tower.
So far, the office tower — the future global headquarters of CEB, formerly known as Corporate Executive Board, a publicly-traded company that’s currently based down the street in Rosslyn — is still just a big hole in the ground. The steel-and-concrete frame of the residential tower, however, is now several stories high and seemingly getting taller by the week.
A spokeswoman for JBG said construction crews are currently pouring concrete on the 8th floor of the residential building and expect the “topping out” to take place by the second quarter of 2016. Completion of the building is scheduled for early 2017.
Crews are currently working on the garage levels of the office tower, the spokeswoman said. A topping out for the office tower — the point at which the top floor of the unfinished building is in place — is expected by the end of 2016. CEB is expected to move in at the beginning of 2018. The observation deck is also slated to open in early 2018.
The wall is an 8 by 12 foot chalkboard with the words ‘I wish I had the courage to…’ stamped across the top. Below are spaces for passersby fill in what they wish they had the courage to face up to, using the chalk that will be made available.
Alexandria native Nancy Belmont first erected the Courage Wall in May, in the Del Ray community, to “create a conversation about fear and allow those passing by to reflect on what is holding them back from achieving their dreams.” It quickly went viral and was featured on Good Morning America and the Today Show.
While in Ballston, the wall will be located in Welburn Square, across from the Ballston Metro station. The current plan is for the wall to stay in the square until July 31.
Piedmont Office Realty Trust and the Ballston Business Improvement District worked together to bring the wall to Arlington. The BID says it hopes the wall will provide “an opportunity for reflection as the community begins celebrating the Fourth of July.”
The wall will be erased when it is full of entries, but prior to that a photo of the filled-in wall will be taken and posted to Facebook and Instagram.
Photo via nancybelmont.me
(Updated at noon) More and more dead trees are being turned into animals around Arlington.
Artist Andrew Mallon, owner of Potomac Tree Structures, drew attention for the bear he carved into a tree on 14th Street N. in Virginia Square last summer and business has only improved since then.
“I think it can get very big,” Mallon said. “I think that it is something that’s going to keep growing. I get more and more calls all the time.”
The Virginia Square tree has been completely transformed. Where was once a bear in the middle of a dead tree, there is now a complete statue, with a fox curling around the trunk and a hawk perched on top.
An Andrew Mallon original has popped up in Maywood, with an owl perched on top of a carved down tree with a “green man” etched in the middle. That sculpture, on the 3500 block of 21st Avenue N. is set back a little from the road — unlike the bear, hawk and fox tree, which is almost on the sidewalk.
South Arlington also has a bit of tree art. On the 4000 block of 19th Street S. in Douglas Park, Mallon took a stump and carved two dogs chasing two squirrels up a tree.
“Most people don’t even really know exactly what they want,” Mallon said. “They mostly say ‘you’re the artist, you tell me.'”
Most of the pieces he’s done — there are some in Fairfax County — take a week or so, but the bear, hawk and fox statue took longer because of payment issues. When Mallon returned to work on it, neighbors gushed to him about the art he added to their neighborhood.
“That’s probably my favorite thing about it,” he said. “Neighbors stop and thank me for bringing it to their neighborhood. The community really likes it, the kids all love it.”
Mallon can be reached at 703-919-4835 or at [email protected].
(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Tejo Remy, an artist for the Netherlands whose work has been featured in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, is designing a fence for the plant that filters Arlington’s sewage.
The fence surrounds the Water Pollution Control Plant, on the 3400 block of S. Glebe Road, and it will be designed in Remy and design partner Rene Veenhuizen’s style of reusing common objects to create engaging works of art.
“The design-duo’s ethos stems from a strong industrial design background, reusing existing resources rather than consuming new materials, and building awareness about our connection to the environment,” Arlington Cultural Affairs spokesman Jim Byers said. “Remy and Veenhuizen have developed and will implement a compelling, innovative design concept which will serve as a unifying element within the Four Mile Run area, while creating distinct enhancements for the fence at the Water Pollution Control Plant.”
The project is expected in 2015, Byers said. It was approved by the Arlington County Board in April 2012.
Some of Remy’s noted work includes a “chest of drawers” displayed at MoMA and a chair made of rags. He spoke briefly about the fence project this week at an exhibition on Dutch design at the Netherlands embassy in D.C.
Photo (top) via Google Maps, (bottom) courtesy Alan Henney
The art will consist of 68 sculptures, lanterns and light fixtures by Venice, Calif.-based artist Cliff Garten. The pieces will be placed from the Lynn Street Esplanade over I-66, through the Central Place development, to the Meade Street bridge over Route 50.
The project will be constructed in three phases. Phase I will be at the Lynn Street Esplanade — the two-part intersection with Lee Highway that doubles as a bridge over I-66 — with four, 20-foot tall “luminous bodies” on each corner of the intersection. This phase of the project is expected to be complete in 2017, in conjunction with planned safety improvements for the “Intersection of Doom,” at one corner of the Esplanade, Arlington Cultural Affairs spokesman Jim Byers said.
Phase II consists of four, 26-foot tall luminous bodies — different in form from the ones in Phase I — at the corners of the 19th Street N. intersection, plus four at the corners of the Wilson Blvd, and five mid-block on Lynn Street in the Central Place development. There will also be 16-foot lanterns all along the block and illuminated bike racks and benches. This phase of the project is expected to be completed in 2017 along with the Central Place office and residential towers.
Phase III is largely the same in scope and look of Phase I, except on the Meade Street bridge. The $5 million renovation of the bridge, intended to make it more modern and pedestrian-friendly, is expected to be funded in 2019 as a joint project among the county, the National Park Service, which owns part of the land for the bridge, and the Virginia Department of Transportation. Phase III is expected to be complete and funded along with the construction.
When complete, the project is intended to tie together Lynn Street in its complete run through Rosslyn. The luminous bodies — giant, stainless steel structures with environmentally friendly lights — will be able to be programmed for different colors, and change with the seasons.
The project will be largely funded by JBG Companies’ contributions to the county’s public art fund, which were part of negotiations for extra density of the Central Place skyscrapers. Garten has already been paid design fees for Phase I and III, Byers said, but how much he has been paid was not made immediately available.
Garten spoke to the Washington Post in 2008, when the project was already being planned, and said he estimated he would need $750,000 to $1 million to complete the project.
“The next level of public art has to move to embrace the city at a large scale, which means to work with the city’s systems and infrastructure,” Garten told the Post. “That could be dealing with water systems. It could be sewer. It could be lighting infrastructure, as it is here.”
A new mural is being painted today at the new plaza at 19th and N. Moore Streets in Rosslyn.
New York City-based artist Jason Woodside has been working on the piece — which he describes as a “creative vortex” — since last Friday. Woodside plans on finishing the majority of his painting by tonight before putting the finishing touches on it the rest of the week.
The mural “kind of speaks just to what’s going in this zone,” Woodside told ARLnow.com while taking a break from spray painting the brick wall. “There’s a bus stop, there’s people coming and going, it’s really transient. It’s more of just something for people to look at and lose themselves in. I call it kind of a vortex, a creative vortex. It pulls people in, it makes their day. It’s all positive.”
The JBG Companies — which owns the property at 1911 N. Ft. Myer Drive and is constructing the Central Place development across the street — commissioned Woodside to paint the piece after seeing the work he’s done in large installations in Miami, Los Angeles, Sydney, Australia and New York. Woodside said it’s the first time he’s been to the D.C. area since he was two years old, despite being born in Fairfax.
The eyes have it. A new art installation featuring interactive LED-lit eyes launched today at the final Ballston Farmers Market of the season.
The display is called “The Eyes of Ballston” and users interact with it through their mobile device. The concept is that five characters live in the tree in the middle of Welburn Square — the baby, the grannie, the flirt, the grump and the raver — and they look at users through the interactive eyes.
Visitors stand near the tree and answer a character’s questions on their mobile device, to which the character responds via the eyes. The character will display different emotions depending on the user’s answer. They can perform numerous actions, including crying, winking and blowing a kiss. Each character has a circadian rhythm, so they’re not all awake and interacting with people at all hours of the day.
“I want them [users] to have fun and interact and enjoy public art, and understand that a great piece of public art is great for place-making and bringing people together,” said artist Lola Lombard, who came up with the eyes concept. “It’s showing them it’s OK to have a little fun. I like my artwork to always have a sense of humor and I think this does that.”
More than 3,000 LED lights, hundreds of feet of wiring, a metal structure and a Linux-based computer make up the project’s technical components.
“It’s really nice to make this stuff as art,” said Branden Hall, whose role focused on the electronic aspects of the art display. “It’s nice to make people smile, I really enjoy that.”
The display is part of the Ballston BID’s “Public Displays of Innovation” series, which also includes the lifeguard chairs placed throughout Ballston.
“We want to bring the amazing creativity and imagination of the people who live and work in Ballston to the street level,” said Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone. “We weren’t even sure at first if it could be done. I didn’t realize it was going to be this cool. It makes you stop to think about how you interact with your neighborhood.”
Sen. Tim Kaine showed up at the farmers market, campaigning for County Board candidate Alan Howze. He checked out the electronic eyes and said he likes the idea of having more public art in communities.
“Why not make communities beautiful?” Kaine said. “I think art, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, I think it makes people feel better about the place where they live.”
The interactive eyes will be in Welburn Square through November.