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Library Advocates: Repurpose, Don’t Demolish, Former API Building

by Karen Goff — June 10, 2016 at 11:00 am 21 Comments

Front of API BuildingDon’t bulldoze the Marcel Breuer-designed former American Press Institute building in Reston. Turn it into the new Reston Regional Library.

That’s the suggestion of the Fairfax Library Advocates, who are urging citizens to write to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County Planning Commission in support of the idea.

The planning commission will make a decision June 16 on whether to recommend Sekas Homes’ rezoning application to the Board of Supervisors.

Sekas seeks to build 34 townhomes and 10 condominiums on the 4.6 acres off of Sunrise Valley Drive in South Reston. A county staff report recommends approval of the application.But in the last few weeks, there has been concern by historical groups and former employees of the American Press Institute, which was housed in the building from 1974 until 2012. The building has been vacant and for sale for more than four years.

The groups are urging the county and state to consider the building for historic designation, even though it is less than 50 years old.

The library advocates say repurpose it. Reston needs a new library and $10 million in county bonds have been set aside to build one. The current plan is to build in the Reston Town Center North area, close to where the current Reston Regional Library stands.<

Here is what the library advocates have to say on their blog:

Fairfax County’s Architectural Review Board has asked that the county reconsider bulldozing the American Press Institute (API) building on Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston.

They believe the building, designed by Hungarian-born architect Marcel Breuer, has historic architectural significance and should not be taken down and replaced with townhouses. API is the only building in Virginia designed by Breuer.

This building at 48,000 square feet is large enough to house a regional library. It’s in an excellent location. The $10 million library bond approved by voters is enough to purchase and renovate the building.

Current development plans for the library parcel in Town Center North and for the API site on Sunrise Valley Drive need to be paused to consider an adaptive reuse of the API building as a public library.

Please write the Planning Commissioners and the Board of Supervisors as soon as possible to ask that this option be considered.

  • Mike M

    “Repurpose” means buy.
    Deja vu?

    • Reston Realist

      What is happening at the API building is also happening across 267 at Sunset Hills. These two properties are identified as the end points for the “Soapstone Connector,” the bridge that is suppose to help link north-south Reston away from the Metro stations and their huge traffic.

      Suddenly both owners have grand plans to redevelop these properties. Sekas wants townhomes. The developer on the other side wants a new office building (never mind the huge vacancies in office buildings).

      Both are using a ploy to get a better price for the properties they don’t really know what to do with.

      If Fairfax County actually buys the Sekas API building property, it could, in fact, serve two purposes: facilitating the construction of the bridge link and providing a new home for Reston Regional Library. Frankly, I doubt County officials are smart enough to see the opportunity.

      • Mike M

        Are you sure API is at the bridge site? I thought it was west by a few hundred yards?

        • Greg

          It’s close enough for government.

      • Constance (Connie) Hartke

        We can all learn more about the Soapstone Crossing Wednesday, June 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Public Information Meeting on the Soapstone Connector Project, in Room 333A at South Lakes High School, 11400 South Lakes Drive, Reston. The meeting will begin at 6:30, with a short presentation at 7:30 p.m. to update residents on the project. Staff will be present to discuss the project and answer questions. For more information on the project, contact Audra Bandy at 703-877-5600, or visit Soapstone Connector.

  • Ming the Merciless

    Remind me – why does Reston “need” a new library? What’s wrong with the existing one, other than the fact that the library board is fixated on throwing away the books that should be on its shelves?

    Moving from one 1960s brutalist building to another doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Is there some way we can foist the Tetra building onto the county as a “new” library? Nah they’re not stupid enough to buy that dog. Too bad.

    • Arielle in NoVA

      The library was already going to have to move because of RTC.

      • Greg

        Why is that? Wasn’t Reston a planned community in the 1980’s when the library was built?

    • Arielle in NoVA

      Actually, having the Tetra building as a branch library and the API building as the regional library would be a *great* idea! Then more folks would have a library near them. Bonus: people might not have to deal with cross-267 traffic as much to get their books.

    • A

      Reston needs a new library because the current one isn’t in great shape. I know because I work there. It would cost less to build a new one than to fix the current one. Also, it was built in 1985, not the 60s, and isn’t Brutalist architecture.

      • Meh

        It has four walls and a roof. What else does it need?

  • Bookworm

    A library would be a fantastic use of this historic building.

    • Greg

      The root word of “fantastic” is “fantasy,” no?

  • Wiiiiings!

    How about we turn the building into the world’s largest Hooters?

    • Chuck Morningwood

      There’s an idea. I was also thinking a Pole Dancing venue, but the building is far too many windows for that purpose.

    • concordpoint

      You get an “A” for persistence!

  • concordpoint

    This is an idea worth further study.. Given that the current library site, and part of the library building are built on an open space easement that inures to the benefit of RA, it has been years and could end up being decades, before anything can be done in Reston North. County should agree; it would show some sign, albeit a minor one, that they respect RA covenants, which they have ignored for decades. Since it’s been over 10 years since the need to upgrade/replace the library was identified, perhaps it’s time for the County to show good faith in its efforts.

  • arjahelena

    What a great idea!

  • RuthieS

    Please consider signing by Monday June 13 the petition that would ask the Planning Commission to consider not abolishing the building at
    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/breuer

  • concordpoint

    Understand the President of the entire AIA International organization has sent a letter to the County Board Chair urging adaptive reuse of the building. Over 1,200 signatures on a petition to stop the demolition. No one ever looked at reuse be it for a library or another use. Stop the rush to judgment.

    • Greg

      There have been many years to find a use, any use, for this eyesore. No interest at all. Time to move on and tear it down.

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