Venture out to Pentagon Row in Arlington, Virginia, on any given day and you will experience an abundance of activity. The vibrant renovation of this plaza over a subsurface parking garage elevated Arlington County’s commercial center into a beloved community center. This active and vivacious plaza, adjacent to a metro station, serves a large population of residents and
The overarching vision for the renovation of Pentagon Row was to create a place that matches the upscale quality of the surrounding community, yet set it apart from the local retail competition. A key design component was the integration of the beloved winter ice-rink, which doubled in size with the renovation. In addition to the multi-season programing, the designers were tasked with creating a space that included organized outdoor dining areas for adjacent restaurants, enhanced circulation and visibility, incorporated an accessible open lawn, and increased the amount of useable space while creatively meeting stormwater regulations.
Interactive fountains at the street entrance activate the edge and invite passersby in. A large lawn for informal gatherings and events welcomes visitors into the center of the plaza, while also accommodating the ice-rink during the winter months. The outdoor dining areas that define the perimeter of the space create a permeable edge of activation while also treating stormwater through the pervious decking surface. A custom built fireplace in the heart of the plaza encourages visitors to stay and enjoy the space in all four seasons.
The personalized spaces, thoughtful attention to detail, and commitment to sustainability that the designers crafted, create an environment that invites the community to explore the center not just for shopping but for a full range of lifestyle and entertainment activities. The new plaza and its vibrant character make it a place people will remember and visit time and time again.
THE SITE | Situated just south of The Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, the existing plaza was barren and outdated with minimal vegetation to soften the mass amount of pavement. One primary design objective was to create a space that could accommodate an ice rink double the size of the original.
EXISTING CONDITIONS | The limited existing vegetation lined the perimeter of the plaza, blocked views into the space and created an uninviting and unusable sea of pavement. The open central area was only ever used for pedestrian circulation to and from the metro station entrance behind the clocktower.
STAKEHOLDER INPUT | The design process involved creating a unifying central space for a wide variety of tenants each with their own design preference. Stakeholders included leasing agents, restaurant tenants, retailers, designers, and engineers. The designers prepared multiple concept sketches for input from these groups as well as the owner and county agencies.
MULTI-SEASON | Multi-season programming opportunities were a large influential factor.
Central lawn softens the ground plane.
Interactive fountains animate the space.
Large canopy trees along edges provide shade.
Trees and structures carefully located to accommodate the ice rink.
Fire pit attracts visitors.
Festive lights and holiday displays animate the space
DESIGN |The final design allows for the required four season uses, while creating a new and vibrant community hub. A dominating paving arc emphasizes movement through the center of the plaza and establishes a central spine. The non-traditional geometry creates a variety of distinctly human-scaled spaces throughout the plaza.
DAILY USE | Visitors, residents of adjacent apartments, and hotel guests alike can be found using the central lawn day and night. Two large removable shade structures double as a sculptural elements creating a clear sense of place, while still allowing for the winter installation of the ice rink.
VISIBILITY & ACTIVATION | Visibility into the plaza has been improved at the street front. New fountains have become focal points — animated with sequenced lights and jets– and encourage children to interact.
SKATE NIGHT | 50% larger than the original rink, Pentagon Row’s 6,840 square foot ice rink is now the largest outdoor rink in Northern Virginia. Adding to the winter wonderland experience, guests can relax by an outdoor dual-sided stone fireplace during skating breaks.
ZONES | Distinct outdoor dining zones for each restaurant tenant were achieved through a simple custom designed removable railing system. The railing provides a consistent edge but allows for changes in layout throughout the seasons. Large canopy trees in these zones provide needed shade, while defining the structure of the plaza.
ELEGANT STORMWATER | Designers were charged with creating as much usable space as possible, while meeting stormwater regulations. Wood decking serves a as pervious surface and introduces a warm sophisticated design element not often found in retail centers. This decking also protects the root zones of the trees, creating a healthier environment.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL | Form and function balance for optimum sustainability as well as aesthetics, creating a rich material vocabulary.
GATHERINGS | Rock on the Row, an anticipated summer concert series, is just one of many events that brings the surrounding community together in this central location.
WINTER FUN | The new plaza and its vibrant character is a place where memories are made during the winter event, Frost Fest. It elevated an existing Arlington County commercial center to a beloved center for community gatherings.
COMMUNITY | The multi-seasonal space has provided community members an inviting center to explore, not just for shopping but for a full range of lifestyle and entertainment activities.