Effective and versatile design makes Tysons Corner Center one of the most successful retail developments in the US
Built in 1968, Tysons Corner Center is widely recognized as one of the most prominent and economically successful retail developments in the United States. The center’s versatile design has evolved over the years to accommodate 1.85 million sq ft of shops and restaurants and 22 million visitors per year - more than the Smithsonian Institution in nearby Washington D.C.
RTKL’s relationship with Tysons began in the early 1980s when the firm designed the revolutionary conversion of the original one-level mall into a two-level retail powerhouse. Subsequent RTKL-led expansions included the addition of four multiple-level parking structures and anchor store additions. The evolution of Tysons Corner Center continued in 2005 with an RTKL-designed renovation and expansion that significantly increased the size and offerings of the mall. That major renovation and expansion included 525,000 sq ft of new construction, the adaptive reuse of an existing 200,000 sq ft anchor department store, and extensive road system improvements.
This expansion/renovation successfully filled retail leasing voids in the center’s offerings by adding a 16-screen AMC Theater, a multiple-offering sit-down restaurant court, a two-level bookstore, multiple in-line home furnishing and lifestyle tenants, a 12-tenant food court, a seven-level parking deck and a valet parking option for mall patrons.
To preserve the successful qualities of the existing center and maintain a consistent design language, the design team implemented a series of natural light sources and timeless interior design elements throughout the space. To create a skylit, three-level atrium space in the former anchor building shell, a 164-foot long by 51-foot wide skylight was cut into the original roof structure and the original three-level retail floor structures were adapted to include generous, retail-friendly floor openings adjacent to the new in-line tenants and the new third-level food court.
The renovation of the former anchor building transformed the outdated department store into two-levels of in-line retail, a 700-seat food court and entry to the 16-screen cinema on the third level of the expansion building.
To ensure a visual transition from the skylit atrium in the former anchor building into the expansion, the team designed a 100 ft wide circular faux skylight between the second and third level to create the illusion of light and space. This element was designed to take on an exciting graphic quality with light and color changing options.
A unified aesthetic between the existing center and the new renovation/expansion space was achieved by using similar materials used in the original 1980s renovation. These elements include the same marble floor tiles and patterning, hand railings, stone columns and bulkheads. The exterior massing of the 92-foot high expansion façade was broken down through various design elements in the design. In spite of height required by the third-level theater, the team minimized the building’s scale by implementing a series of façade elements that vary in height, material cladding and both horizontal and vertical articulation.
From a functional perspective, project designers went to great lengths to enhance the comfort and quality of the shopping experience. Most significantly, part of the project’s success can be attributed to the enhanced convenience afforded by the new seven-level parking structure and the related circulation improvements. The new parking structure provides direct pedestrian entry points into all levels of the expansion/renovation.
The addition of the architecturally-designed parking terraces creates a visual presence for the center from the major roadways. Architectural elements such as lighting, landscaping and graphics have been used imaginatively, expanding the standard concept of a parking garage. Tysons Corner Center has 54 acres of structured parking which, when combined with site parking, provides the center with 10,000 car spaces.
In addition to physical improvements, several community services were added in the 2005 – 2007 expansion/renovation, including a second guest services center, a literacy-themed children’s play area and a multi-purpose conference center that is used to host a variety of classes, meetings and workshops.
Following the 2005 expansion/renovation, a retail traffic audit reported marked financial improvements in the center’s ongoing retail success track record including an increase of two million shoppers visiting the center annually, an average 10% increase in sales per sq ft, and a 6% lease rate increase. Based on the long-standing relationship with the center’s ownership, and the most recent success of the 2005 expansion/renovation, RTKL was retained to lead the 2007 masterplanning and re-zoning efforts for a four-phase mixed-use expansion of the mall property that will expand Tysons Corner Center from a 2.3 million sq ft retail center to a six million sq ft, transit-oriented, urban mixed-used environment.
RTKL was also appointed as the Master Architect for this four-phase expansion in 2010. Currently, Phase One is in design and RTKL is responsible for coordinating a variety of consultants and other architects working on the Phase One office tower, hotel and residential tower which are all connected by a 50,000 sq ft elevated, open-air plaza.
RTKL’s relationship with Tysons began in the 1980s when the firm designed the mall’s first two-level expansion which nearly doubled the size of the mall and added a second level. That revolutionary retail expansion included the conversion of an underground storage and truck tunnel into 100 new in-line shops and two additional department stores.
The evolution of Tysons Corner Center continued in 2005 with an RTKL-designed renovation and expansion that significantly increased the size and offerings of the mall. This 2005 effort represented one of the most comprehensive expansion programs in U.S. retail history, resulting in a well-rounded, diverse tenant roster and an enhanced variety of retail and entertainment uses.
Following the 2005 expansion/renovation, a retail traffic audit reported marked financial improvements in the center’s ongoing retail success track record including an increase of two million shoppers visiting the center annually, an average 10% increase in sales per sq ft and a 6% lease rate increase.
Based on the long-standing relationship with the center’s ownership, and the most recent success of the 2005 expansion/renovation, RTKL was retained to lead the 2007 masterplanning and re-zoning efforts for a four-phase mixed-use expansion of the mall property that will expand Tysons Corner Center from a 2.3 million sq ft retail center to a 6 million sq ft transit-oriented, urban mixed-used environment. Phase One of this transformation is currently in design and will provide a direct link to the region’s metro rail system.