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.
- 9 things people always say at zoning hearings, illustrated by cats
- Bad Metro reliability is driving riders away. WMATA has a few ideas to get them back.
- Montgomery will go ahead with BRT, but at what cost?
- The Northeast Corridor carries more rail passengers than anywhere else in the country. What could it look like in 2040?
- New York's subway has a great idea for Metro
- The National Zoo has clarified its safety concerns. Turns out you're the problem.
- WMATA's new general manager is listening before he even takes the reins