metropolitan park public art commissions
arlington, va

Arlington’s Metropolitan Park, a 2.5-acre public park designed by Field Operations, is a place for recreation and refuge in the heart of the National Landing neighborhood and is the front door to Amazon’s new HQ2.  The park features a collection of three artworks that inspire interaction and dialogue and bring a sense of community, human connection, and intimacy to the space.   Via worked with JBG Smith, Seneca Group, the owner, and the design team to select the three artists whose bold and innovative work is integrated into the park design: Nekisha Durrett, Aurora Robson, and Inigo Manglano-Ovalle.

Durrett’s Queen City confronts the 1941 seizure of Black-owned land by the federal government for the construction of the Pentagon in Arlington, a fact that is not often talked about as part of Arlington’s history. The piece features a 35-foot-tall brick tower which includes 903 ceramic vessels made by Black ceramicists from the local area and beyond. Each vessel is the shape and color of a drop of water, representing each individual who lived in Queen City when the land was seized.

With Shhh, Aurora Robson invites viewers to step out of everyday life to marvel at the incredible biodiversity of Virginia and the many things that we don’t hear or see unless we are quiet and observant. The artist used upcycled plastic to create more than thirty oversized 3-D printed mushrooms. At night, each component responds to movement by softly glowing within, reminiscent of the bioluminescent mushrooms found in nearby forests. 

When walking through the park, look up to see Manglano-Ovalle’s Untitled Perched Objects — a series of sculptures perched overhead representing familiar yet unexpected events.  The surprising pieces invite the viewer to consider all the objects that surround us, those overlooked and those which may hold our focus. Each is a part of the everyday and yet extraordinary, recognizable and yet inexplicable.

In addition to managing the artist selection and concept development process, Via worked with each of the artists and the park’s design and development teams to oversee the projects through installation. We led the developer through the Arlington County site plan-initiated public art process to gain approvals from Arlington County for the artworks. The park, with its three artworks, opened in June 2023 to much acclaim, providing a contemporary, thoughtful and compelling space for residents, Amazon staff, and the community to enjoy respite from the bustling city.

Pictured Above:

Nekisha Durrett, Queen City, 2023. First photo courtesy of Luke Walter Photography, others Via Partnership.
Aurora Robson, Shhh, 2023. Photos courtesy of Marshall Coles.
Inigo Manglano Ovalle, Untitled Perched Objects, 2023. Photos courtesy of Via Partnership.

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