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Ignacio Ciocchini

Street Smarts

Q&A with Ignacio Ciocchini, an award-winning designer collaborating with the BID on Rosslyn’s Streetscape Master Plan

Ciocchini is well known for his work with several Manhattan business improvement districts, including the Bryant Park Corporation and the 34th Street Partnership. The Rosslyn plan is set to roll out in 2014, and its wide range of elements will transform the face of Rosslyn.

Why pay attention to streetscape elements?

Public spaces are products, and just like any product, they need to attract clients (the clients being those who work in, live in, or visit the area). Cities can’t assume that just because they have sidewalks, people are going to want to walk on them. They need to ensure that people want to spend time in the area and patronize the businesses there. Unfortunately, that’s not how most cities think. The Rosslyn BID, however, really understands the importance of innovation. They saw an opportunity, through street furnishings, to elevate the public space design to the level of the other high-end development taking place throughout Rosslyn.

What are some of the elements in the BID’s Master Plan?

We’re creating great street furniture and amenities that look to the future, incorporate technology, and are made, whenever possible, with recycled materials. We’re looking at ways to balance the space allotted to cars and people. We’re creating places for people to work and relax outside. The products include park benches, trash cans, bike racks, pop-up cafés (parklet), and a branded information kiosk, among many other things.

What has the process been like, in developing these streetscape designs?

During this process, I’ve worked closely with the Rosslyn BID, and also with the leaders of Realize Rosslyn, the master plan organized by Arlington County, to assess the needs of the area, now and in the future. After doing an initial survey of the area, we are working to ensure that the final designs are visually cohesive, and in fitting with Rosslyn’s modern aesthetics.

We’re also trying to get as close to the “living room experience” as possible. I’m comfortable in my living room, and therefore, I spend time there. That’s the way to think about public spaces—we need to make people feel as comfortable as possible as they walk on the sidewalks and use the plazas in Rosslyn. That means looking beyond individual street furniture products, and thinking about a system of products, programs, and services that create an exciting area.

What will be the impact of these elements on Rosslyn and the community?

Based on current trends, by 2050, nearly 90 percent of the world’s population will live in urban centers like Rosslyn. The elements we are putting in place will be a step toward being able to support and attract these people, particularly young, talented professionals. We’re paying attention to sidewalks and public spaces. And we’re shifting from a car-centric perspective to pedestrian and bike-friendly innovations, to provide a better quality of life.

 Featured Rosslyn Events

Rosslyn FRESHFARM Farmers Market
Wednesday, May 1 - Wednesday, October 30
at Central Place Plaza

Trail Tuesdays with Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail
Tuesday, May 14 - Tuesday, September 10

Rosslyn LIVE: Uncle Jesse
Thursday, July 25
at Gateway Park