The streets of Arlington, Virginia’s neighborhoods flow steadily with traffic every day. Below these streets are miles of pipes filled with water coming from our homes and moving through the sewershed towards the Chesapeake Bay. Before reaching the Bay the water is intercepted by a large water treatment facility, preventing harmful pollutants from being released into this ecologically rich environment. The Arlington County Water Pollution Control Plant (ACWPCP) is where this vast underground system surfaces, allowing us to better understand the relationship between our community and the environment we live in. Through this Master Plan, the invisible becomes visible, connecting the daily lives of Arlington neighborhoods with the Chesapeake Bay.
The Arlington County Water Pollution Control Plant currently acts as a gateway to Arlington, Virginia. Seen from the air or from the adjacent highway this thirty-five acre site is a major element in the landscape of the city. This master plan visually and functionally transforms the existing plant, along with its future expansion and upgrade, making the plant’s pivotal role apparent as the connector between the watershed, the community and the Chesapeake Bay. Its intent is to make the facility become a symbol of a new bond forged between the community and the environment. This pragmatic facility will be transformed into a place of communal engagement, education, and recreation through the treatment of the surrounding walkways, fences, neighborhood elements, and the plant buildings themselves. The roofs, grounds, and roadways will be adapted to cut down on heat and odor as well as produce clean rain water runoff. A new environmental center at the north edge of the plant will be a resource for the community to learn more about the plant, recycling, and the use of native plants. The proximity of the Four Mile Run offers the opportunity to make stronger linkages between the plant and the environment beyond. Visual elements of the plant might be integrated at the edge of the river as it is restored to encourage wildlife habitats found from Arlington to the Chesapeake Bay. By creating these new experiences, meaningful relationships between the neighborhoods, the treatment facility, the river, and the Chesapeake Bay are established, encouraging us to consider how we affect our environment from the smallest to the largest scale. Heightening our awareness of these connections allows us the opportunity to think about our responsibilities as individuals and as a community. From this reflection, the potential to affect our future becomes tangible.