Public Art Proposal for Colts Neck Road Underpass Receives Design Approval

Reston Association’s Design Review Board approved Philadelphia-based artist Ben Volta’s vision to transform the Colts Neck Road underpass into public art.

At a Tuesday meeting, the DRB approved a conceptual design of the project. The final version will use between 600 and 1,000 designs created by seniors from Hunters Woods Fellowship House and more than 800 students from Southgate Community Center and Hunters Woods and Dogwood elementary schools.

Inspired by Reston’s 55 miles of pathways, Volta asked participants to use sharpies to draw a path that invokes joy, love and reference. In a proposal to the DRB, he describes the project as a “colorful connector that reverberates collective energy and rhythm.”

The DRB reviewed a conceptual rendering of the project with just 10 drawings replicated over and over again to give the panel a feel for the direction of the design.

During the meeting, Richard Newlon, the DRB’s chairman, said the project was “stunning.”

“You take something as mundane as a tunnel and its almost too bad that tunnels weren’t designed with more fun in mind,” Newlon said.

Panel members briefly considered asking Volta to return to the DRB for final approval once the design was near finalization. Instead, Volta will submit a final rendering of the project as a courtesy to the DRB.

However, W. Neal Roseberry, a DRB member, questioned the need to transform underpasses into public art.

“I’ve never fully enjoyed that we use our infrastructure for our artwork,” Roseberry said.

Public Art Reston hopes to install the project by September. Anne Delaney, Public Art Reston’s executive director noted that the master plan for public art in Reston envisions transforming the community’s underpasses into art.

Volta says will use colors selected by workshop participants, but anticipates tweaks to the color to ensure the piece is balanced. A strip of LED lighting will line both ends of the tunnel.

“I’m kind of along for the ride as well,” Volta said, adding that he’s open to collaborating more with the community for piece of art created through collaboration.

The artwork begins six inches above the ground in order to prevent splattering from dirt and mud. Because of its location, the underpass has drainage issues.

The project is made possible with a proffer commitment by Atlantic Realty Companies to improve the exterior of the underpass as part of its development at Hunters Woods at Trails Edge. The developer is pitching in $60,000 for the art.

Other community partners include ARTSFairfax, Reston Community Center, JBG SMITH, Virginia Commission for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Pat & Steve Macintyre, and Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association.

Renderings via handout/Reston Association

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