Lake Anne was the first Village Center built as part of Robert E. Simon’s planned community, RESTON. Today the Plaza sits in a Historic Overlay District, and is home to a diverse and vibrant community. Residents of the Lake Anne Village area, and Reston as a whole, are committed to local living and to supporting independently owned businesses.
Founded on April 20, 1964 (Simon’s 50th birthday) and named for his initials, Reston was the first planned community in America. Simon hired Conklin Rossant Architects as master planners to incorporate higher density housing to conserve open space, as well as mixed use areas for industry, business, recreation, education, and housing. An important part of Reston’s development is its five village centers and one town center (Lake Anne, Hunters Woods, Tall Oaks, South Lakes, and North Point, plus Reston Town Center). Each village center was designed to be a half-mile walk from most homes and incorporate the daily retail and community service needs of residents. Denser developments, such as apartments and clustered town homes are clustered around each village center.
The Lake Anne Village Center opened in 1966 after the master plan for Reston was completed. James Rossant designed Lake Anne to emulate the Italian coastal town of Portofino with modern architectural themes that extend to a nearby elementary school, a gasoline station, and two churches. Lake Anne also has an art gallery, several restaurants, the Reston Historic Trust Museum, shops, and a senior citizens’ fellowship house. Close by are the cubist townhouses at Hickory Cluster that were designed by the noted modernist architect, Charles M. Goodman, in the international style. The Village Centers were designed to be within a ½ mile walk of most homes in Reston and provide many of the retail and service needs for area residents. With a mix of residential and commercial uses integrated into a natural setting, the Lake Anne Village Center most closely reflects the original intent of the master plan to provide residents with a unique environment in which they can “live, work, and play.” As a result, the Lake Anne Village Center is considered a special place by local residents, and it is regarded by planners, architects, and developers as one of the earliest examples of a master planned, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development.
Washington Plaza is the heart of the Lake Anne Village Center. It is an icon of modern design and new town planning recognized by landscape architects, architects and planning professionals throughout the world. Moreover, it is treasured by those who have chosen to live there. (1) Anchored by a man-made lake and surrounded by retail and restaurants, Washington Plaza is the main public gathering space in the Lake Anne Village Center. Washington Plaza and portions of the adjacent parcels within the Lake Anne Village Center are designated as a Fairfax County Historic Overlay District. The Fairfax County Architectural Review Board (ARB) reviews all proposed improvements and alterations to the original buildings and public spaces within the Overlay District. In June 2011, the Virginia Board of Historic Resources and the Virginia State Review Board endorsed the Historic District and Lake Anne for listing in the Virginia Landmarks Register and for forwarding to the National Park Service for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. The Lake Anne Village Center (is) eligible for designation in the National Register of Historic Places (as of) 2016. (2)
Fun, Beauty, Fantasy: Reston’s Public Art
A short documentary about Reston’s public art (with scenes of Lake Anne) produced by the Initiative for Public Art – Reston (IPAR).
(1) Stephenson & Good, The Rehabilitation of Washington Plaza, 2000
(2) Fairfax Co. Office of Community Revitalization, Lake Anne Village Center Design Charrette, 2015