Rendering of the Reston Town Center
This is the original architect's rendering of the proposed Reston Town Center, the largest initiative undertaken by Mobil after its 1979 acquisition of Reston from Gulf Oil. Prior to the development of Reston Town Center, the few existing suburban centers were mostly sterile agglomerations of two or three office buildings and perhaps a hotel, all spread out on a pedestrian-unfriendly "superblock" footprint—a hallmark of suburbs that led to large expanses of space that separated major attractions and businesses from one another and often necessitated use of a car or public transportation. Mobil, prodded by the Urban Land Institute—a nonprofit educational group from the development industry—decided on a bolder, more innovative design. Reston Town Center would be much denser than typical suburban centers, and, in the first phase, whole blocks of office buildings, a hotel, and shops would be built at the same time.