Lipstick can help the Tysons pig, a little
Fairfax County is considering dressing up the Silver Line's mammoth concrete pylons with murals. The idea could help animate the otherwise bleak, gray structures.
Ideally the Silver Line would've been underground through Tysons Corner. But federal rules that have since changed prevented that, forcing the Metro line above ground, onto a huge elevated structure.
That wasn't the end of the world, but it did condemn Tysons to some unnecessary ugly.
So why not dress it up? Murals can unquestionably make big gray structures more colorful and interesting. They're easy to implement, don't cost very much, and help a little. There's not much down side.
Murals are, however, still just lipstick on a pig. They don't solve the underlying deadening effect of bare walls. For example the Discovery building mural on Colesville Road in Silver Spring is surely better than bare concrete, but shops & cafes would've been better still.
And Tysons' murals won't be as effective as the one in Silver Spring. Colesville Road is basically urban, basically walkable. The block with the mural is the weakest link on an otherwise lively urban street.
But in Tysons, the Silver Line runs down the middle of Leesburg Pike, one of the most pedestrian-hostile highways in the region. If murals are added to the Silver Line, they may become the best and most interesting part of the streetscape, as opposed to the worst.
So by all means, Fairfax County should absolutely do this. Murals are a great tool to cover any large blank structure. But what Tysons really needs is walkable streets with lively sidewalks.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
- As Silver Spring urbanizes, neighbors disagree on who "belongs" there
- DC's housing affordability crisis, in 7 charts
- It's time we all became mode-positive
- What's behind the budget cuts at Wilson High School
- There's plenty of room for safe bike lanes in College Park
- An entrance at the Van Ness Metro station is about to close for three years
- Alexandria closes in on Potomac Yard Metro location