Historic Downtown Fairfax
Our high levels of responsiveness, flexibility, and commitment to community needs allow us to achieve very successful results in busy urban areas with dense populations.
“We had to be opportunistic, constantly figuring out how and where we could keep the project moving without impacting something else that was going on.”
– Tony Trost, Operations Manager
Settled in the 1700s and just 20 minutes from Washington D.C., Fairfax, Virginia blends a rich history with the bustle of a thriving urban center. With a population of approximately 20,000, Fairfax is home to a large number of companies and office buildings, but also boasts a beautiful downtown historic district with some meticulously preserved and restored state homes.
In recent years, with its population growing and commerce thriving, the city recognized the need to revitalize its downtown area: to increase accessibility, allow better flow downtown, enhance the land surrounding its historic buildings, and create a civic and recreational public area for events and activities. The result was an extensively reimagined park and downtown area, one that would significantly improve function in the town.
The challenge for both the City and for our team was how to pull off such a dramatic redesign within a relatively small area of the city while preserving existing historical buildings and gardens, and without significantly impeding the day-to-day activities of its citizens.
The original site, which was largely unused by the public, included a small park, several historic buildings and two gravel parking lots. The new design featured two new parking lots with permeable brick pavers, multiple site retaining walls, brick pedestrian walkways, a two tiered plaza, two storage sheds with an attached pergola structure, several water features including a fountain and a splash pad, a memorial garden, the preservation and enhancement of the existing Kitty Pozer Garden, and all necessary park infrastructure including water lines, sanitary sewer lines, and storm drains.
As with any construction project in a busy urban area, the Fairfax park construction presented a number of challenges, not all of them unexpected. The small downtown area is bounded on all sides by businesses, residences, busy roads and a University campus. With no convenient or adjacent space for staging equipment and materials, we had to be creative with our sequencing, adjusting the plan as necessary. Another concern was the impact on small business owners: keeping construction on schedule while ensuring ongoing access to shops, restaurants and other surrounding businesses.
Working inside a constrained space with a tight schedule, and with construction continuing through the winter, our biggest challenge was finding a way to remain effective while also being flexible.
When inclement weather struck, we built tents to protect the new stonework and paving. When old utilities and huge concrete slabs were discovered underground, we adjusted the schedule and moved to work on other sections of the park. When unforeseen costs arose, we worked with the City to identify savings and remain within budget. When construction blocked access to businesses, we built ramps and created alternative access to several buildings. Though small in area, the Old Town park redesign was ultimately very complicated, requiring a huge amount of manpower and dedication to complete on time and within budget.
What we were able to bring to the project was an unwavering commitment to the successful completion of the City’s vision within time and cost restraints, while being considerate of the needs of business owners and careful to preserve the historical heritage and personality of Fairfax’s unique downtown area.