History of Lake Anne Plaza
How Lake Anne Came to Be:
Reston was founded in 1964 and named with the initials of its founder Robert E. Simon. Jr. (RESton). An important part of Reston’s conception was planning for seven village centers (only five were actually built) and one town center. Lake Anne was the first village center and where Reston’s development began. Each center was designed to be a half-mile walk from most homes and to incorporate the daily retail and community service needs of residents who lived in the clustered housing developments nearby. The first family moved to Lake Anne in December 1964, and all commercial spaces were leased by February 1965. Lake Anne Village Center originally included a grocery store, art gallery, teen Rathskeller, furniture store, pharmacy, hardware store, and library, as well as a garden shop, which was located in the commercial parking lot.
Lake Anne’s Design:
With its mixed-use development of residential housing and commercial shops, man-made lake, trails, and recreational opportunities, Lake Anne embodies Robert E. Simon, Jr’s founding principles for Reston: That people should be able to “live, work and play” near where they live, no matter their economic status or stage in life. Lake Anne was designed by William Conklin and James Rossant encompassing a modern, Brutalist architecture style, and suggest aspects of the Italian coastal town of Portofino. Some of these modern architectural themes extend to a nearby elementary school, a gasoline station, and the church on the plaza. Public art is integrated throughout the center for enjoyment and play.
Lake Anne Today:
Today, Lake Anne Plaza has four restaurants, a museum dedicated to Reston’s history, retail shops, a cycling and fitness studio, several salons, a local craft brewery, a post office and chocolatier’s shop, and an art gallery. Residents of the Lake Anne Village area and Reston as a whole are committed to local living and to supporting independently owned businesses. 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, the heart of Lake Anne Village Center, and portions of the adjacent parcels within the Lake Anne area 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 2017, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the Virginia State Review Board endorsed the Lake Anne Village Center Historic District 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 Historic District was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.