New Lighting on Helmut Jahn Building at Reston Station Part of Architect’s Signature Design

by Dave Emke August 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm 17 Comments

Gratuitous use of LEDs. What is this imitating, Vegas? #reston #wmata #shiny #purple

A post shared by Stephen Repetski (@srepetsk) on

Festive? Or garish?

Depending on your point of view, new lighting at the 1900 Metro Plaza building at Reston Station may have caught your eye for a different reason. The color-changing edge lighting that went into place recently on the 16-story structure caused a reader to contact Reston Now with one distinct type of reaction.

It is shocking; [it] looks like Las Vegas in Reston,” the reader wrote. “[I] almost drove off [the] road [the] other night. [I] had to go back another night to be sure I was not hallucinating … that’s how bizarre it looks in Reston.”

Maggie Parker, vice president of communications for property owner Comstock Partners, said the lighting is a signature part of any Helmut Jahn-designed property. For more, Parker shared the preface of the catalogue for a 2012-13 exhibit of Jahn’s work at the Neues Museum in Berlin.

“[His] buildings possess qualities for every time of day,” reads the preface, written by museum director Angelika Nollert. “At dark, they are illuminated and are thus usually given a festive shroud. Helmut Jahn makes use of light as a building material.”

The reader who contacted Reston Now, as well as an Instagram user who posted a photo of the lighting, compared the design to something one would see in Las Vegas. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), Jahn also designed twin 37-story residential towers in Las Vegas that feature similar lighting.

Parker said that when working toward rezoning of the Reston Station property in 2009, Reston citizens “encouraged, even demanded” world-class architecture. She said those calls were echoed by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and Reston founder Bob Simon, which led to the worldwide competition for an architectural firm that resulted in Jahn’s firm being tasked with the project.

She said Jahn’s design for the building was “intended to focus on creating a strong, recognizable sign visible at high speeds.”

“Indeed, at Reston Station the signature buildings emulate the movement and speed of the adjacent trains and cars on the highway — your 70-mph experience,” Parker quoted Jahn.

So, what’s your opinion of the lighting on the 1900 Metro Plaza building?

  • watchthewingnuts

    I would suggest that if the person complaining was so close to running off the road from just driving past a few small purple lights on a building… that they may want to consider whether they should be driving in the first place. Heaven help them if an ambulance or police car drives by.

    • TheKingJAK

      I don’t think they meant it in the literal sense.

      • watchthewingnuts

        Apparently no one gets sarcasm in these trying times.

    • RestonAssurance


  • Scott

    It doesn’t look terrible now, but I don’t think it’s going to age well.

  • TheKingJAK

    I’ve seen them actually change the colors of the lights around the building, and it’s probably a good idea go have such lighting given its prominence and proximity to IAD (Among other airports). At first I didn’t care for it, and the design of the building seems like a blatant rip-off of the CIT tower, but it’s still pretty interesting.

  • Jonathan Campos

    At night when i leave from work, it makes me feel like Im in Las Vegas!

    • RestonAssurance

      That’s what I thought. Kind of a delight.

  • ImWithHer

    Hey guys, what all are we going to be offended about today???

    • Greg

      Your handle does it for me…BIG time.

  • JoeInReston

    The Helmut Jahn building? That cracks me up. Helmut Jahn sounds like the name of a Star Wars villain.

    • RestonAssurance

      Or an SNL skit.

  • Helpless Reston crime victim

    I love the fact that it’s so completely opposite the silly Reston covenants and they’re powerless to do anything about it.

  • Big Drop

    I sincerely wish them the absolute best of luck in renting this signature building. It is truly a statement that speaks well for Reston and western Fairfax County.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Trashy looking for Reston.

  • Greg

    You mean they are not incandescent lights? Horror of horrors. Reston just cannot let the 1960s go!

    At least they are “hard wired.” Those hipster string lights hung by wires we see everywhere now, of course, would be a heinous Reston covenant violation.

    “The DRB believes that incandescent lights generally produce softer,
    less glaring light that is more suitable to residential environments.
    Applications for halogen, fluorescent, or other types of light sources
    will be evaluated on a case by case basis for compliance with the
    Design Guidelines for DRB review provided above. Other light
    sources (spiral fluorescent, for example) should be a style, color
    and wattage that is appropriate for the fixture’s design and desired
    light level.”

    “The DRB generally will not approve sodium vapor light for
    installation on individual residential properties due to its poor
    color rendition, its glare, and its contrast with the “white” lighting
    predominant in the community.”

    “Silver-coated floodlight bulbs will not be considered a “shielded”

    “Exterior light fixtures should be “hard wired,” that is, installed so
    that there is no visible wiring or conduit.”

    • watchthewingnuts

      I’m convinced that some of the nuts in Reston would have everything in some shade of brown or taupe and architecture styles roughly imitating that of the Brady Bunch house for every piece of architecture in Reston if they could force it.


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