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Petition: API Building: ‘Crucial Chapter in Reston’s Rich History’

by Karen Goff — June 8, 2016 at 10:30 am 13 Comments

Front of API BuildingSupporters of saving the former American Press Institute building have started an online petition to protect the Brutalist building from the wrecking ball.

The building was designed by noted architect Marcel Breuer, who also planned Atlanta’s Central Library, the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City, and buildings at Yale University and New York University, among others.

The building housed the API from 1974 to 2012. It has been vacant and for sale since 2012.

Sekas Homes is looking to rezone the 4.6-acres of land from industrial to residential in order to build 34 townhouses and 10 condominiums at 11690 Sunrise Valley Dr. A county staff report recommends approval of the application.

There has been a last-minute effort, including letters from the Fairfax County Architectural Review Board and state historical society, to stop that process.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission toured the empty building last week and will make a recommendation on June 16.

The building is the only Breuer-designed project in Virginia and should be given historical designation, some say. Others are of the opinion that it is an outdated office building that is ripe for redevelopment. A planning commission public hearing was held last month.

Here’s what the petition says:

The American Press Institute (API) building in Reston, VA, is under the threat of demolition.

It is the only building in Virginia by the internationally acclaimed architect Marcel Breuer, “a master of Modernism” who also designed the Whitney Museum of American Art (now the Met Breuer), UNESCO Headquartersin Paris, and the HUD buildingin Washington, D.C.

For nearly 38 years, tens of thousands of news media executives — representing a “Who’s Who in Journalism” — attended leadership seminars in the nonprofit’s Breuer-designed headquarters in Reston.

  • The API building is historically and architecturally significant.
  • It is a crucial chapter in Reston’s rich history.
  • It should have a second life instead of being torn down.

That’s why we’re asking you to sign this petition to save the API building.

On June 16, the Fairfax County Planning Commission will make a final decision on a local developer’s application for rezoning the property from business to residential and a demolition permit.

If the commission and, soon after, the Board of Supervisors approves this plan, the building will be razed so that single- and multi-family housing can be built on the site.

A growing coalition — local and nationwide — questions this plan given what’s at stake, including:

  • Fairfax County Architectural Review Board (ARB)
  • Fairfax County History Commission
  • Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Historic Resources
  • Reston and other Fairfax County residents
  • Community leaders
  • Architects, historians and preservationists
  • Journalists and other news media executives across North America who attended API programs
  • Former API staff members
  • Those who believe that architectural treasures should be preserved

  • Lez Meckitso

    This building looks rock solid, let’s buy. Revenue opportunities, indoor bocce, RA head quarters, skywalk.

  • Shaddup

    Do the signers of the petition agree to buy the property in order to preserve it? No? Okay then.

  • Paul

    If it’s so significant and cherished why has it been vacant for so long? Most likely because it’s a useless structure and given the current state of the economy no private sector companies find it useful. Why hasn’t a preservation association bought it to preserve and protect? Most likely because because they don’t have enough donations from private sector companies due to the current state of the economy.

    Points from the petition above:

    The API building is historically and architecturally significant.

    Why? Because the architect didn’t work anywhere else in VA? Because of the
    angles of the concrete?

    It is a crucial chapter in Reston’s rich history.

    What is crucial about that “chapter in Reston’s rich history.”? A memorial to a
    Company was here and then left?

    It should have a second life instead of being torn down.

    Vacant for how many years? The group of people that love the structure should
    and can buy it and do what they like with it….and pay the property taxes.

    Why would the RA not welcome another 43 units that pay over $29K in fees? They love spending other people’s money as they see fit.

    • Shaddup

      You know, Reston’s rich history that goes allllllll the way back to 1964!

  • 30yearsinreston

    RA Board will be suckered into.buying it
    Kate will take responsibility if it goes pear shaped

  • Mike M

    “If it has not been sold in 4:years, it is overpriced ”

    You raise a good point that some have raised with other vacant properties in the area. I don’t want RA, Fairfax, the state, or Feds to buy it. BUT, I am highly skeptical about the complete lack of interest in the property. The owners stand to gain much more in the next ten to twenty years from redevelopment. If they really wanted to get it occupied they, in fact, could have lowered the price. I don’t know their costs, but I am skeptical nonetheless. You are right to ask the question.

    • 30yearsinreston

      Thanks – I believe in the maxim ‘follow the money’

  • concordpoint

    There is a rush to judgment here. Reston P & Z was mislead by applicant. County did sloppy job of putting all issues on the table. This matter should go back to P & Z before PC acts. This may have been a better RA purchase/investment then the “mistake by the lake” . Too late for that discussion now.

  • Constance (Connie) Hartke

    An excellent use has been identified this week and it’s not too late – Reston Regional Library needs a new home as it is slated for “redevelopment” also. Please read http://restoncitizensassociation.blogspot.com/2016/06/a-potential-new-home-for-reston.html

    • Mike M

      Gag! So the county (instead of RA) will buy the lump this time? Connie, I can’t believe you like that.

      • Constance (Connie) Hartke

        Please, did you read the link I shared? People other than me – not the County, not RA, have done a quick analysis in the last few days and think it could work. The only way to fully explore the idea is to get a stay of execution on the building. This MIGHT be a super solution for a new home for our regional library.

        • Mike M

          Yes, and who pays? The County.

          • 30yearsinreston

            We do

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