1.9. Strive for a more attractive and sustainable public space system.

While Arlington County already has many well-designed spaces and sustainability policies guiding its public spaces, continuing to improve in these areas will aid the County in meeting its energy use and sustainability goals and help create a cohesive identity for the County’s public realm. 

1.9.1. Create design standards for park amenities. 

To ensure a consistent process for design that results in high-quality and high-functioning spaces, standards will be set that utilize best practices, follow national standards, address operations and maintenance costs, and meet accessibility and sustainability requirements. 

1.9.2. Strive for design excellence in the development and renovation or replacement of parks and amenities. 

Design excellence requires an attention to the quality of design in built structures, landscapes, the way they interact with each other, and how they interface with their surroundings. Considerations may include the sensitive and appropriate use of materials, plant palettes, locally native plants and the inclusion of horticulture. 

1.9.3. Explore using a rating system such as the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) for a pilot project to design sustainable landscapes. 

1.9.4. Opt for sustainable design elements where appropriate. 

Sustainable design elements may include those made with recycled, salvaged or locally produced materials, those that consume few resources, those that produce or are powered by renewable resources (e.g., solar panels) or those that reduce maintenance and life cycle costs. Designs should reflect the goals laid out within the Stormwater Master Plan, Community Energy Plan or other relevant County plans. 

1.9.5. Promote the planting, preservation, maintenance and increase of canopy trees and native plants on public and private land. 

Arlington’s tree canopy provides many economic and environmental benefits. Trees aid with reducing the urban heat island effect and mitigating stormwater/flooding, and create comfort and health in a shaded environment. Increasing tree cover will also help advance the goals laid out in the Urban Forest Master Plan. 

1.9.6. Incorporate public art into public spaces in alignment with the Public Art Master Plan. 

One of the guiding principles of the Public Art Master Plan is for public art to be a tool for placemaking — creating meaningful connections between people and places important to civic life. Public art can reflect local history, culture and neighborhoods. 

Well integrated public art can enliven and enrich public spaces, drawing more users and making for a more attractive and interesting experience. Continued programming related to the public art collection can attract new users, activate spaces and serve to embed the spaces and the artworks into the civic consciousness. Public art that is interactive and can be used for play and recreation should be encouraged.