On a busy block in the downtown Clarendon area, Dominion has completed a phase of work to upgrade a critical substation that improves electric reliability for homes and businesses throughout Arlington.
Because of this facility's highly visible location and frontage on both Fairfax Drive and Wilson Boulevard, Dominion worked with Arlington County, community representatives and a selected artist to make the substation more harmonious with its immediate surroundings.
With help from Meridith McKinley of Via Partnership, the group selected artist Ben Fehrmann to create a work of art that also serves as an enclosure running the length of the substation along Wilson Boulevard and Fairfax Drive, between Washington Boulevard and 10th Street.
These enhancements to the substation’s perimeter and related pedestrian zones through public art and improved urban design serve to convert a former pass-through zone into a vibrant civic space. They are also the result of a great partnership between Dominion, Arlington County, Fehrmann and the community.
"My father worked for Union Electric Company in St. Louis for forty-five years. His favorite subject was distribution. From an early age he taught me about how the distribution network functioned. Any trip in the car involved a description of the elements of this network that we could see out the window. This network was absolutely pervasive, to the point that it was rarely out of sight. He was intensely proud of that, and hoped that I would be proud of his role in it. My father had little appreciation for art, but he saw beauty in that network.
The substation in Arlington is part of that network. It is, quite literally, connected to virtually every other inhabited point in America. The primary challenge with this project was not to hide the substation, but instead to communicate to the people who encounter it how important and valuable it is. I knew that a successful solution would not be simply a pretty object, but an effective translator. The beauty is already present, it simply needs to be communicated.
People exist as part of a network. This network is not simply a network of other people, but of infrastructure, energy, matter, and ideas. The network, as I learned from my father, is an amazing and elegant thing. We simply need to recognize it. This project presents an opportunity to place the viewer in a better position to consider these relationships."
Substation perimeter fence, created by artist Ben Fehrmann.
Contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Arlington transmission lines and substation upgrades.