Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Big Tree Fall on Car — A large tree fell across 8th Street S. late last week, crushing a parked car and causing a widespread power outage. [Twitter]

Local NAACP Reflects on Progress — “The Arlington NAACP’s 71st-anniversary Freedom Fund Banquet was a chance to look back on progress, but also to press for vigilance so it doesn’t slip away… The banquet on Oct. 13 drew a large crowd to the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel.” [InsideNova]

Rosslyn LED Art Unveiled — “Cliff Garten Studio is pleased to announce, ‘Gravity and Grace,’ a site-specific large-scale LED public artwork integrated into the architecture of JBG SMITH’s Central Place Plaza in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington.” [LiveDesign]

Yorktown Tied for First — “With an important homecoming victory over the visiting Langley Saxons in Oct. 12 football action, the Yorktown Patriots (4-3, 2-0) upped their winning streak to three to remain tied for first place in the Liberty District.” [InsideNova]

ACPD Again Holding Take-Back Day — “On Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 16th opportunity in seven years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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A colorful, constantly changing public art installation is now on the way for Rosslyn’s Central Place.

Arlington Public Art is teaming up with the Rosslyn Business Improvement District and developer JBG Smith to host the new work of art at Central Place Plaza (1800 N. Lynn Street), just across from the Metro station.

California-based artist Cliff Garten will be working to install and program the piece from now until Thursday (July 12), according to a county press release. The 150-foot-wide, 15-foot-tall LED artwork, titled “Gravity and Grace,” will be projected onto the top two floors of the parking garage at the site.

“The ever-changing artwork incorporates real-time environmental data that organizes its spectral shifts of color,” the county arts program wrote in the release. “Both color field painting and blues guitar inspired the design of the artwork. If the work of art were played on a guitar, you might say that the programmed environmental factors are really what are strumming the chords of color you see on the wall.”

The county added that Norm Schwab of the design firm Lightswitch and artist Pablo Molina helped write algorithms for the artwork “that drives the color and motion transitions in the artwork.”

“The significant pieces of real-time environmental data tied to the artwork vary daily and show significant fluctuations over long periods of time, such as temperature and extreme weather tied to climate change,” the county wrote. “This shifting data introduces chance into the structure of the artwork pulling data from factors like local variations in Arlington’s temperature, river level, traffic patterns or water usage.”

Garten, who is also the designer behind the “Corridor of Light” art installation coming to N. Lynn Street’s intersection with Lee Highway and I-66, will host an “on-site artist talk” about the installation tonight. The event will start at 9 p.m.

Photo via Arlington Public Art

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A yarn bomb will be hitting the Clarendon Metro Plaza this week to raise awareness about metastatic breast cancer.

More than 30 trees in the plaza will be covered in colorful yarn from April 20-30, according to Arlington native Ann McLean, the project’s organizer. McLean has been collecting both knitted pieces and monetary donations through her organization called Stitch 4 Stage IV, which was created in November.

More than 200 knitted pieces were donated for the yarn bomb.

“I was really worried that we weren’t going to get enough and it turned out we got more than enough,” she said. “We actually may turn out doing more trees than we thought we were going to do.”

McLean is also using the yarn bomb as a way to celebrate the six-year anniversary of her own diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. This type of cancer has no cure and the survival rates are grim — around 70 percent of people with it don’t live past 3 years, she said.

“I’m considering this quite an anniversary,” McLean added.

It also sends cancer cells to other parts of the body, and in McLean’s case, it’s in her liver. The cancer is treatable, but not curable, she noted. The yarn bomb is symbolic of the cancer, she said.

“Metastatic breast cancer is like a bomb going off, sending breast cancer debris to other parts of your body — bones, lungs, liver and brain,” McLean wrote in an email.

McLean also got 40 people to sponsor a tree for $100 each and also received other donations, totaling $10,000 raised for the Karen Ribeiro Drug Discovery Research fund at the Inova Schar Cancer Institute.

Knitting was a hobby for McLean when she was a child and she picked it back up when she got her diagnosis. She said it helps her feel “zen,” keeps her busy, and calms any anxiety.

She also got the idea for a yarn bomb when she took a trip to New Zealand and thought the knitting community would support a similar project in Arlington. But the donations have come from all over, including Encinitas, Calif., Palm Harbor, Fla., Rehoboth Beach, Del. and even the United Kingdom.

This will not be Arlington’s first yarn bombing — a group called the Guerrilla Stitch brigade covered Rosslyn in yarn back in 2013.

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Columbia Pike is set for a new piece of public art: a 60-foot wind turbine blade on Arlington County’s western border with Fairfax County.

The blade, entitled “The Pike,” is designed by the noted sculptor Donald Lipski, and will stand on the southern side of the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Jefferson Street in the Arlington Mill neighborhood.

At a talk at the Columbia Pike Branch Library last month, Lipski said he was inspired by the design of wind turbine blades and the pike weapon, which is a long thrusting spear. He also noted that there are still disused windmills along Columbia Pike that were once used to pump water.

“It’s just put up as this big beautiful thing,” Lipski said. “It’s a found object, it’s recycled, it’s emblematic of wind energy, it’s emblematic of a Pike, but one that’s vertical, one that’s in the open position and says, ‘Come on in. Everybody is welcome. You don’t have to pay a toll even though it used to be a Pike'”

Lipski said he will reuse an old 50-foot-long turbine blade, stand it up vertically on a 10-foot pedestal and then cover the pedestal in coins from the various countries and nationalities represented along the Pike. The sculpture will be lit at night by a series of lights around its base.

The use of coins also harks back to when the Pike used to be a toll road, first designed to connect the District of Columbia with areas to the west.

“Citizens of Arlington would go and rummage around in their drawers and find coins from their home country and give me those coins, and I would build them into the sculpture,” Lipski said.

And in return for letting him use their coins in his sculpture, Lipski said he will design a commemorative coin and give one to each person who donates in exchange.

The work had been intended to coincide with the opening of the since-canceled streetcar, but will go ahead as the Pike prepares for the launch of the “Premium Transit Network” of buses.

But not everyone is so sure about the new piece of art. In letters provided to ARLnow, leaders at the Arlington Mill Civic Association said a decision approving the project was made without enough input. Planning for the art has been underway since 2012, and Lipski was selected from 88 applicants the following year.

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Morning Notes

Record High Low Temperature — The area has set another record for a warm low temperature. Yesterday, the low temperature at Reagan National Airport was 74 degrees, besting the previous Oct. 9 record of 72 degrees. [Twitter]

Record APS Enrollment — Enrollment at Arlington Public Schools for the 2017-2018 school year has been recorded at 26,927, surpassing the previous record set in 1963 in the midst of the Baby Boom generation. “The official count was up 789 students – 3 percent – from a year before, and has now risen 27 percent since the 2010-11 school year,” the Sun Gazette reported, though the final figure was well below the more than 27,000 projected. [InsideNova]

Record School Library Circulation — Print is apparently not dead yet, as 1.044 million books and other printed materials were checked out at Arlington Public Schools libraries last school year, a new record. It is the first time that count has exceeded 1 million. [InsideNova]

ACFD Getting New Ambulances — The Arlington County Fire Department is getting two brand-new ambulances for its fleet. [Twitter]

Courthouse Meeting Bowls in KidsPost — “Near Arlington’s courthouse, three unusual round wooden objects are attracting attention and exploration by people of all ages. Some think they look like amusement park rides. To Hadley Christiansen, 3, of Arlington, ‘they look like salad bowls.'” [Washington Post]

Meeting Set on High-Speed Rail Line — A public hearing is being held in Alexandria next Tuesday to gather public input on proposed high-speed rail service from D.C. to Richmond. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by James L.

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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.

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Morning Notes

‘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]

Roosevelt Island Back Open — Roosevelt Island is open again after being temporarily closed by the National Park Service for the removal of diseased trees. [DCist]

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

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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.

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Morning Notes

Airplane watching at Gravelly Point (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

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

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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.

The bridge design process includes extensive public outreach as well as collaboration with Arlington County public art and urban design staff. A blog has been created to document the process.

“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.

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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.

Crystal City Lights signage“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.

Crystal City Lights chandelierIncubators 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.

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