Annapolis, Maryland is on the left. Reston, Virgina is on the right.
The buildings along Main Street in Annapolis are finely detailed and offer evidence of each one being distinctly conceived and built. The buildings in Reston are lacking detail and offer evidence of being designed by one person. Annapolis has a human scale and warmth that is completely lacking in Reston. I think a large part of this is due to the simple fact that the architecture in Reston came from one factory.
Conceptually, I love the idea of Reston, and I really want to like the place. But in the end, it just feels sterile to me. The opposite of Annapolis. Did Reston’s planners not visit Annapolis – a journey of only a few miles? Did they visit, but not understand the city fabric there? Or was there an arrogance of the time where they decided that the modern world didn’t need to learn from the past?
To me the solution would have been to have had Reston’s conceptual plan tie the place together, but to have had a great variety of architects actually design buildings within the framework of that plan.