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.
Passersby along 14th Street N. in Virginia Square should not be alarmed by what appears to be a black bear climbing a tree on the street — it’s just a new carving from an Arlington artist.
The bear was carved in front of 3600 14th Street N. by Arlington native Andrew Mallon, a 2001 graduate of Washington-Lee High School, carpenter and, for the last two and a half year, the owner of Potomac Tree Sculptures. The bear was commissioned by homeowner Joanne Goode, who has lived in the house since 1958.
The tree is a dying oak that Goode was having workers cut down when, she said, their chainsaw stopped working and the bark was partially stripped off. She said her son told her about Mallon, who says he gave her a discount because the tree is prominently displayed out front. Unlike the famed “busty mermaid” statue that stood along Lee Highway for years before being cut down this spring, Goode wanted the sculpture to be part of the tree.
“I didn’t know the mermaid was a tree, I thought it was just a statue,” she said. “I didn’t want something to look like a statue, I wanted the tree to be there so you knew it was a tree.”
Mallon said the carving is the first publicly visible one he’s done in Arlington, and he’s not done with it. He plans on carving a hawk on top of the tree, a fox, and maybe squirrels and raccoons. Mallon said a bear like Goode’s would normally run one of his customers about $800. It took eight hours in total — six on Sept. 5, two on Sept. 9 — to create.
Mallon uses a chainsaw to carve the sculpture and a blowtorch and sandpaper to achieve the bear’s dark brown color. He said he can carve sculptures into basically any tree, but wouldn’t recommend it for live trees since the process kills the tree.
“If it’s a tree that’s dying, get a tree company to come, cut all the limbs off, and we can come up with something great to put in it,” Mallon said. “There are a lot of designs I haven’t tried yet. I love sea life. I’d love to do a shark or a marlin. I’ve done plenty of turtles, and some bass jumping out of the water.”
In just the first weekend the tree went up, Goode said she had dozens of comments from neighbors and people walking and driving by. All of the comments, she said, have been positive.
“People either parked their cars or drove by and said, ‘Hey, that’s cool, that’s neat, I love it,'” she said. “It’s just unreal the amount of attention it’s gotten.”
Mallon can be reached at 703-919-4835 or at [email protected].
Man Pleads to Arlington Hospital Rape — A former Virginia Hospital Center employee has pleaded guilty to the rape of a 37-year-old woman at the hospital. The victim was at the hospital to receive a CT scan after falling and hitting her head while drunk. The rapist, 30-year-old Roy Anthony Jones, will be sentenced in October and could spend up to 18 years in prison. [Washington Post]
Construction Permits Filed for Office Tower — JBG Cos. has already filed for construction permits for the new CEB Tower office building in Rosslyn. The 31-story tower is part of JBG’s Central Place project, which also includes a residential tower which is currently under construction. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Powerball Winner Claims Prize — Arlington resident Tim Dudgeon has come forward as the winner of a $1 million Powerball prize. Dudgeon bought the ticket at Mia’s Market and Deli at 1607 S. Glebe Road. The store received a $10,000 bonus from the lottery for selling the ticket. [WJLA]
Vihstadt Pushes for Greater Contract Oversight — After a $7 million streetcar contract was able to bypass a County Board approval process on a technicality, Board member John Vihstadt wants to require all capital improvement contracts valued at $1 million or above to receive Board approval. County Manager Barbara Donnellan is evaluating the proposal. [InsideNova]
Arlington Celebrates Public Art Milestone — Arlington County is celebrating “30 years of Public Art placemaking in our community.” The multi-month celebration will kick off Aug. 1 on Dark Star Park Day, held at 1655 Fort Myer Drive in Rosslyn. [Arlington County]
(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) The future plans for the Ballston Common Mall include demolishing the Macy’s Furniture Store and parts of the current mall to build a 29-story residential tower and an open-air town center along Wilson Blvd, officials announced Monday night.
The 393-unit apartment building, at the corner of Wilson and N. Randolph Street, is projected to be completed by 2017, Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone revealed at the BID’s annual meeting last night. Leone said the redevelopment — including a revamp of the retail mix at the mall — will be crucial for the branding of Ballston, which is often closely associated with the increasingly run-down mall.
“The mall hasn’t quite been able to serve our public,” Leone said, noting the mall’s future is the main question she gets asked about the future of Ballston development. “The mall is going to ‘de-mall’ itself. The roof is coming off.”
The mall is owned and operated by Forest City, which purchased the Macy’s Furniture Store last September. Forest City spokesman Gary McManus told ARLnow.com at the time that the mall had planned retail space with more street access in Macy’s place, and those plans now include the residential tower.
The building is expected to have four floors of underground parking and two floors of retail space below the studio, one- and two-bedroom rental apartments. The apartment building and attached parking will have a separate entrance from the restaurants and remaining mall.
Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the main Macy’s store — which will fold in the furniture store on its ground floor — the Sport&Health Club and the Regal Cinemas will all remain in the closed-air section of the mall, which is being rebranded as “Ballston Center.”
Along Wilson Blvd, parts of the mall — which originally opened as the Parkington Shopping Center in 1951 before it was rebuilt and reopened as Ballston Common Mall in 1986 — will be torn down and replaced with an open-air, town center-like plaza. Demolition is expected to begin by late 2015.
“[Forest City] thought about what was going to have the highest impact,” Leone told ARLnow.com, saying the Ballston BID has been “on a very high level” helping to form plans for the mall’s redevelopment. “To make it a town center, this is life-altering for the people who live and work here.”
McManus said that the pedestrian bridge from the mall to the current National Science Foundation headquarters across the street is tentatively slated to be torn down — private conversations between Forest City and Arlington County Board members led the mall owner to remove it from the plans — but an agreement needs to be reached with the NSF building’s property owner before that can happen.
McManus also said that the retail mix in the mall will change, to become more restaurant and entertainment-oriented. It will be aimed at serving the immediate area, not as a mall that brings in most of its shoppers from other areas, despite the fact that it will have “some destination retail, too.”
“We don’t want to compete with Tysons or Pentagon City,” McManus said. “We’ve started this project before, but this time it’s got all the momentum behind it.”
In addition to the four-level, 580,000 square foot mall’s redevelopment, Leone announced plans for changes to public spaces expected this fall, like public art projects, Ballston-branded signs lining the streets and the new Fairfax Drive landscaping ARLnow.com reported on earlier this month.
Among the proposed projects is a redesigned Metro plaza, which Leone said she hopes will include an “interactive light installation” under the Metro canopy. The light installation is being designed in Amsterdam — it will track pedestrians’ movements underneath and project light based on that movement. The Metro plaza is also planned to include an small amphitheater and redesigned bus parking to remove some buses from N. Stuart Street. (more…)
The Crystal City Business Improvement District has commissioned a 215-foot-long, 2,500-square-foot mural to be painted on the Crystal Drive side of the vacant office building at 1851 S. Bell Street.
The “graffiti-style” mural will be painted by the No Kings Collective beginning April 1. According to Crystal City BID President Angela Fox, several artists will paint different parts of the mural during the times when the streets of Crystal City are busiest — during the work day, farmer’s markets, food truck Thursdays and 5K Fridays.
“It’ll just turn into a very vibrant wall like you’ll see in Miami’s Wynwood Art district,” Fox told ARLnow.com. “It’s colorful, it’s bright, it’s experiential. You’re going to watch the evolution of it going from a primed white to all sorts of colors.”
The painting process will take about three-to-four weeks, Fox said, and the mural could be continuously changing until the building is ultimately torn down, to be replaced with a 730,000-square-foot skyscraper.
Photo via Google Maps. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
A 19-year-old Leeway-Overlee resident took advantage of Arlington’s especially snowy winter to build a massive snow fort in his front yard.
Michael Grieg, who lives on the 6000 block of 22nd Road N., built the fort “by himself using snow shovels, a wheelbarrow, two ladders and recycling bin for a snow block mold,” according to his mother, Cristina. The fort is 12 feet high with an 11-foot-by-11-foot base, she said.
“It was built to be a work of art, he doesn’t often have the opportunity,” Cristina Grieg wrote in an email to ARLnow.com “It took him about 40 hours starting with the first major snow storm.”
The above pictures were sent on Saturday, but the snow fort may not be around for much longer. Temperatures could jump into the 70s by tomorrow afternoon. Mild temperatures this weekend reduced the fort’s height by a foot, Grieg reported Monday morning.
“Still standing, about 11 feet now, but showing wear and tear,” she said.
Photos courtesy Cristina Grieg