Arlington Celebrates Penrose Square Phase I Completion

Updated 11-06-2012, 3:35pm: to provide more detailed information on the origins of the Columbia Pike Initiative Plan (in Background section).

  • First of several community-planned squares to be built on Columbia Pike
  • Homage to former Columbia Pike radio tower
  • Community space supports informal gatherings

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County community is invited to celebrate completion of Phase I of Penrose Square at 4 pm Thursday, November 8. The project, located at 2503 Columbia Pike in front of the new Penrose Square development, will enliven the Pike by offering a great space for informal gatherings.

“With the completion of this first phase of the Penrose Square project, we are really beginning to feel and see the transformation of Columbia Pike,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “A visionary group of residents came together to create this vibrant, public square that will serve as a welcoming place, where neighbors can come together to socialize, dine, relax and have fun.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at the square’s public art piece, Echo, and will be followed by a reception in the leasing office of Penrose Apartments, which overlooks Penrose Square. The leasing office is located at 2501 9th Road S, Suite 100.

Project design boasts unique, sustainable features

The County’s newest square is 17,000 square feet and includes features that incorporate elements of Arlington’s vision of sustainability:

  • “Echo,” two-piece sculpture by Richard Deutsch
  • A tree-covered upper terrace with movable tables and chairs
  • An inner plaza with a water feature
  • Small gardens interspersed in the plaza, designed to provide seasonal colors
  • Sustainable USE OF WATER:
    • Bio-filtration system underneath the tree terrace to filter storm water runoff and enhance tree root growth
    • Water recirculation system that allows the water feature to conserve the use of water at the site

Public art piece, Echo, pays homage to former Columbia Pike Radio Tower

As a member of Penrose Square’s landscape design team, Richard Deutsch created the interactive sculpture inspired by the Three Sisters Radio Towers, formerly located near Columbia Pike and Courthouse Road.

Built in 1913 by the Navy as cutting-edge technology, the towers broadcast the first trans-Atlantic radio signal in 1915, connecting Arlington with the Eiffel Tower. They also introduced regular broadcasts of time signals — important navigational aids for ships at sea. When National Airport opened in 1941 the towers posed an aviation hazard and were taken down.

Echo provides a modern interpretation of Arlington’s significant contribution to the history of communication. The concave elliptical parabolas carved into each monolith reflect and project sound, allowing words spoken into one stone to be heard by listeners at the other. California-based artist Deutsch designs sculpture and environments using stone, water, bronze, and stainless steel. Like Echo, much of his work is marked by an understanding of space and environment and an attention to social context and history.


The County Board approved the Columbia Pike Initiative Plan – A Revitalization Plan in 2002, describing the vision and concept plan for the corridor. The following year, the County Board approved the Columbia Pike Form Based Code, which emphasized a public square at this location. In 2005, the County Board adopted the Columbia Pike Initiative Plan – A Revitalization Plan Update, which harmonized those two documents and serves as the planning reference for the commercial areas along Columbia Pike. The County Board first announced the creation of the Columbia Pike Initiative in 1998.

As a result, the 2006 Penrose Square site plan included a 17,760 square foot parcel that was dedicated by Penrose Square Associates, LLC to the County to create the first half of the public square. Following approval of the site plan, the County Board appointed a 12-member citizen Working Group in 2007 and charged it with developing a master plan for the public square.

The $2.2 million project was funded by PAY-AS-YOU-GO Capital Funds and General Obligation Bond Funds. It was designed by Oculus and constructed by Meridian Construction. A Phase II expansion of the square is planned that will include a TRANSIT Super Stop in front of the square along Columbia Pike TO support the current Pike Ride BUSES as well as future generations of transit.

For more information about Penrose Square and the Columbia Pike Initiative, visit

Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.