The U.S. Army plans to move forward with public art at the Mark Center site despite criticism from community members.
The $600,000 set aside for two pieces of public art at a bus station in Mark Center came under fire earlier this month. Rep. James P. Moran, Jr. (D-Va.) and residents questioned spending $600,000 on art while road work and other traffic issues went unfunded.
Some 6,400 federal workers will move into a new building at the Mark Center, at Interstate 395 and Seminary Road, in about 100 days. The move is part of the federal Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC.
“Obviously, this got the attention of senior leadership,” said Jim Turkel, director of the Belvoir Integration Office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to members of an Alexandria BRAC citizen advisory committee Wednesday night.
The top brass will participate in the final selection and the cost of the artwork will be taken into consideration, he said. The committee could choose two pieces of artwork. The U.S. Army would pay up to $600,000 for all of the artwork.
“It is rather unfortunate that it played out this way, but we are still committed” to bringing public art to the project, Turkel said. He said the original request for art came from the advisory group.
Matthew Harwood, co-chairman of the Alexandria Public Arts Committee, part of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts, said the sculpture is no longer an option. Only the wall displays are under consideration, he said.
The wall displays include cut aluminum flowers, a mosaic of the D.C. region, a take on the Doppler effect and a wildlife design, Harwood said.
The Army will fund $20 million of short- and mid-term transportation improvements surrounding the Mark Center. The state set aside $80 million for a ramp from the northbound HOV lanes on I-395 to Seminary Road.
Public comments are still being accepted on the four designs, which can be seen on the Alexandria website.