Fairfax County is gaining a number of beautifully-designed public places along the Silver Line, but not enough attention has been paid to Reston Station.
Phase One of Metro's Silver Line opened in 2014 and four new stations have popped up in Tysons Corner. A fifth has opened in Reston near Wiehle Avenue called Wiehle-Reston East, which for the moment marks the end of the Silver Line. (Phase Two will stretch the track to Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County.) Much of the Silver Line buzz tends to be about Tysons Corner and the ongoing efforts to transform the area into a true downtown for Fairfax County. However, though not as well known or publicized, there are some big changes afoot in Reston as well, notably the Reston Station development.
"Reston Station" doesn't actually refer to a train station (although there is a metro stop called Reston Town Center opening soon) but rather to a number of new buildings recently constructed near the Wiehle-Reston East stop. Fairfax County worked with the Station's developers, Comstock, to build a plaza that connects the new buildings to the metro stop. Amenities also include parking, the county's first secured bike room, a bus loop, and a kiss and ride.
The Plaza, located on the roof of the bus loop and bike room, is an exciting new public space. The area is inviting and easy to navigate despite the train station being in the middle of a highway. Small shops–including bakeries, booksellers, and home wares vendors–line the main walkway, inviting travelers to linger and browse rather than rush to their next destination. A nearby outdoor concert stage includes plenty of space for families to spread out.
The surrounding buildings (including one designed by renowned architect Helmut Jahn) help the plaza feel like an outdoor room, an important feature of many great urban squares. Walking out from the bridge over the highway into the plaza makes you feel like you are not just getting off the train, but are actually arriving somewhere. It's a genuinely enjoyable place to spend time while waiting for the bus.
The site also includes a Capital Bikeshare station, part of Reston's new network. The station is close to the W&OD Trail, providing a convenient way to pedal to places such as Reston Town Center, whose own Silver Line station opens as a part of Phase Two.
Local restaurant chain Founding Farmers is slated to open a location on the plaza later this year, which will likely attract even more people to the area.
The plaza at Reston Station isn't the only new public space on the Silver Line. In 2014 GGWash's Dan Malouff wrote about the new plaza outside of Tysons Corner Mall. That plaza is also elevated to be at the same level as the Tysons Metro Station (elevated above Route 123). Now that space become a signature feature in an area of Fairfax County that has its sights on becoming a vibrant and truly urban place.
With its inviting design and user-friendly features, Reston Station gives the plaza at Tysons a run for its money when it comes to public space along the Silver Line. As more development opens along the line, it's important that its public amenities help transform the area from a bunch of new buildings into real communities tied together by transit.
The original version of this post misstated the official names of Wiehle-Reston East and Reston Town Center. It has been updated.