Local students debut art design concepts for Richmond Highway BRT stations
Students from three area high schools recently completed design concepts for artwork at seven of the nine future Richmond Highway Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) stations. The preliminary designs will be presented at the BRT Executive Committee meeting March 10 before community feedback is sought on them.
Visual arts classes from Mount Vernon High School, West Potomac High School and Hayfield Secondary School participated in the station art design activity — specifically the development of artwork for the stations’ windscreens. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) began outreach to local high schools early last year to get younger generations involved in the BRT’s “Community Charm” initiative, which aims to ensure that stations reflect the unique history, identity and character of the neighborhoods surrounding them.
“We think it’s the best way to get [students] engaged because in the end, this is their system,” said FCDOT’s BRT project manager Vanessa Aguayo at an Executive Committee meeting in January 2022. “They are our future, so we want to get them involved and incorporated into as much of this as possible.”
Mount Vernon High School was responsible for designing art concepts for the Woodlawn and Fort Belvoir BRT stations. The overarching themes for the stations had been previously discussed at community meetings and approved by the BRT Executive Committee.
According to Visual Art Department Chair Sally Gilliam, advanced digital art and design students from Mount Vernon High School worked on the designs during their class time. They split into two teams and worked on two to three concepts for each station using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.
“They are working on building their skills as researchers, communicators and collaborators,” said Gilliam. “They are particularly enjoying the option to work in teams or individually on their design concepts.”
BRT’s Lockheed and Hybla Valley stations were the focus of upper-level digital art and design students, as well as a studio art student, from West Potomac High School. Visual Arts teacher Amy Stoll said her students worked on two design concepts per station, splitting into teams to research, brainstorm and ultimately collaborate in developing the windscreen designs.
“This project gave the students a unique opportunity to participate in a large-scale public art project that required a different mindset and work ethic than they are accustomed to,” said Stoll. “There is deep thought and symbolism behind each design, and we look forward to sharing the designs with the community!”
Hayfield Secondary School, located in Franconia District, contributed art design concepts for the Huntington Metro, Kings Crossing and Beacon Hill stations. Visual Art teacher Casey Shannon’s photography students worked on the project outside of school hours, conducting a total of five portrait shoots at three different locations, she said. The photography for all three stations incorporated a theme of past, present and future, incorporating historical information, portraits of a few students and their hopes for the community’s future.
“It was our intention to educate citizens and visitors of the Route 1 corridor about the rich history of the land we stand on, while also preserving the present and looking towards the future of our changing community,” said Shannon.
Shannon’s students said they enjoyed working on the project, learning about new places and realizing they were potentially contributing to something enduring.
Some of the Hayfield students will be on hand at the upcoming BRT Executive Committee meeting to present their designs. The plan is for committee members to review all the preliminary artwork design concepts, which will be shared with the broader community for feedback from March 13 to April 3. FCDOT will host an open house March 29 to showcase the artwork.
Once community feedback is solicited via a survey, FCDOT will present recommendations to the Executive Committee at its April 17 meeting. The committee will select the final artwork for each station and work with students and the design team to implement any changes that are needed.
A separate timeline is planned for presenting and selecting art design concepts for the Gum Springs and Hyland Center BRT stations. Youth from the Gum Springs Community Center and South County Teen Center will be working on artwork for those stations in coordination with community members and advisory groups.
Members of the public may attend the March 10 BRT Executive Committee meeting, which will run from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Hybla Valley Community Center’s Workforce Innovation Skills Hub. FCDOT’s briefing deck and agenda are available on the BRT project website.