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The Lake Anne Village Center (LAVC) is located 18 miles west of Washington, DC on the northwestern edge of Fairfax County, Virginia. It was the first of five Village Centers in Robert E. Simon’s master planned community of Reston, Virginia. The Village Centers were designed to be within a ½ mile walk of most homes in Reston and provide for many of the retail and service needs of area residents. With a mix of residential and commercial uses integrated into a natural setting, the LAVC closely reflects the original intent of the master plan to provide residents with a unique environment in which they can live, work, and play.
Opened in 1966, the LAVC’s design influences were drawn from many iconic cities and architectural inspirations including European coastal cities, the International Style, and the English Garden City movement.

The LAVC is considered a special place by local residents and is regarded by planners, architects, landscape architects, developers and the general public as one of the earliest examples of a master planned, pedestrian oriented, mixed-use development.

Anchored by a man-made lake, Washington Plaza is the main public gathering space in the LAVC. The Plaza area is framed by a three-story crescent of mixed-use buildings with residential condominiums over retail shops. The vertical elements, concrete columns, and slightly protruding brick divisions between upper balconies are unified by horizontal concrete bands characteristic of modernism. Its brutalist architecture is tempered by its human scale and medieval elements.
On May 27, 2015, OCR and LARCA held a focus group at the Reston Museum with 16 LAVC residents and business owners/managers. Many common themes emerged from the focus group. Although the unique architecture, history, identity, and beauty of Lake Anne were celebrated, many of the focus group attendees believed that there could be improvements in terms of diversity of activities and restaurants. Most agreed that building upon the diversity of Lake Anne’s restaurant and business scene would be the principal way to complement Plaza activities and increase pedestrian traffic.
The unique architecture of the LAVC, and its sense of community were among the top attributes identified through the survey, focus group, and design charrette. Many of the participants believed that a successful revitalization of Washington Plaza could be achieved with an increase in lake activities by creating a more dynamic edge along the lake, and by diversifying the businesses at the Plaza.
Major issues identified from the survey, focus group, and the design charrette were: the lack of activity surrounding/on the lake, poor access to the lake, limited retail visibility, and lack of diversity of businesses at Washington Plaza.
During the second half of the charrette, a number of specific approaches were developed using the initial ideas formed by the two teams. Participants divided themselves into small groups of four or five to focus on detailing one particular approach.

In general, the teams wanted more interaction with the water, both visually and physically, and believed that the lake, as an asset, is underutilized. Many suggestions centered on increasing the use of the lake, whether it was just looking at the lake or using the lake for water activities, including floating stages and extended dock areas for seating.
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Washington Plaza Charrette at the Lake Anne Village Center

View the final report by clicking on the website link below.

This final report for the Washington Plaza at the Lake Anne Village Center Charrette is the result of surveys, a focus group meeting, and a culminating design workshop to develop ideas and strategies that will meet the needs and desires of residents and business owners, while coordinating with the planned future development in the Lake Anne Village Center adjacent to the historic plaza.

The project emphasized short-term and long-term physical improvements that enhance connections, aesthetics, visibility, and uses in and around Washington Plaza while respecting the intent of the original design.

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Joanne Fiebe
JoAnne K Fiebe Fairfax, VA