weekly photo challenge: urban ~ reston town center

Monday, August 27:  Today my son Alex and I venture out to lunch for some “togetherness time” at the Panera in Reston Town Center, a kind of “suburban downtown.”

Alex at Fountain Square

The Town Center is a planned urban area in the middle of what used to be a mostly rural area, between Washington, D.C. and Washington Dulles International Airport.  The idea was to create a space more vertical than horizontal, a downtown area for people who didn’t want to fight the traffic to go into Washington.

the Promenade

Reston Town Center was conceived in the late 1970s by Mobil Land Development. Construction of the town center began in 1988. The first wave of construction was completed in October 1990. Construction continued periodically into 2009, creating an ever-expanding downtown area rising up out of the planned community of Reston.

the corner of Market St. and Discovery St.

Reston Town Center is designed with open avenues and wide sidewalks. It is built around Fountain Square, an open area between the surrounding shops and restaurants. The main landmark in Fountain Square is Mercury Fountain, designed by Brazilian-born sculptor Saint Clair Cemin.  The 20’ fountain is crowned with a bronze figure of Mercury, the Greek Messenger God, with water flowing from bronze ‘trumpets’ along the column. Lush plants, low seating and broad steps make this area very inviting to pedestrians (Reston Town Center).

Mercury Fountain

Directly in front of Mercury Fountain is Market Street, and across the street is the Pavilion. The Pavilion doubles as a covered open-air ice rink during the winter and as a concert and event venue throughout the rest of the year.

the Pavilion and a colorful florist van

The center is surrounded by free parking that includes one-hour street parking and garage parking.

one of many parking garages and an apartment building

According to its official website, Reston Town Center combines elements of the ideal downtown, the “vitality of an Italian piazza and the diversity of a French boulevard.” The popular spot in the Northern Virginia suburb of Reston is the closest thing to a “downtown” in the area and continues to expand, attracting new residential and business clients.

Window shopping at Williams & Sonoma
a little taste of France in Reston

It now boasts more than 50 retail shops and 30 restaurants.  Many of the restaurants have outdoor seating under umbrellas or trees, giving the Town Center a bit of a European feel.

Paolo’s outdoor seating
Clyde’s outdoor seating

In addition, Reston Town Center has a 13-screen cinema and a Hyatt Regency hotel.

the multiplex cinema

Since the most recent phase of construction in 2009, Reston Town Center, has also become a desirable location for businesses and residences. Among brand name companies who now have offices at Reston Town Center are Google and Rolls-Royce North America. Meanwhile, luxurious high-rise condominiums have led to an influx of young professionals, creating a city-like downtown atmosphere (Wikipedia: Reston Town Center).

my shopping paradise: Anthropologie

I have frequented Reston Town Center for years, since it first opened in 1990.  I have seen the little “downtown” expand over the years to increasingly resemble a real city.  There are now too many great restaurants to count, some of my favorites being Paolo’s and The Big Bowl.  Some of my favorite stores are here as well, including South Moon Under, J. Crew, Anthropologie, and Banana Republic.

one of my favorite stores: South Moon Under
Mercury Fountain from outside the Town Center looking into Market Square

This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge:  Urban. The idea behind urban photography is to photograph your city and the streets where you grew up as they are. Unlike the photoshopped pictures to which we are accustomed nowadays, urban photography presents a more direct, unaltered view of life. It is about documenting urban living space and how people adapt their environment to certain needs and vice versa. Urban photography shots provide cultural, social, economical, and ecological context all at once, and can capture social tension.

Think of urban photography as a complement to street photography—it provides the context in which street photography unfolds.

Share a photo that means URBAN to you!