Dark Star Park

Nancy Holt
Rosslyn, Arlington County, Virginia
Gunited concrete, stone masonry, asphalt, steel, water, earth, gravel, grass, plants, willow oak
Overall area: Two-thirds of an acre

Holt designed ​Dark Star Park i​n concert with the development of the site as a whole, integrating landscaping and sculptural features to encompass the neighboring building and adjacent traffic island. Concrete spheres are interspersed throughout the park, visible through tunnels, reflected in pools of water, and framed in the carved-out hole of another sphere. Every year on Dark Star Park Day people gather to watch the shadow alignment. The shadows cast by the concrete spheres and the steel poles align with asphalt shadow patterns on the ground at 9:32 AM on August 1—the anniversary of the land’s acquisition by William Henry Ross in 1860. ​Dark Star Park contemplates the physical and ideological structures of land ownership while quoting the cosmos.


Scholarly Text

Nancy Holt's "Dark Star Park"

Angela Anderson Adams

Monument wars contesting public space. Controversies arising over renovations of Brutalist landscape design. As the custodian of a world-renowned artist-designed park now in its fourth decade, these recent developments resonate. The idea that public sculpture, parks, and plazas are subject to changing mores as manifestations of our collective identity has never been more evident. 1

Writing by the Artist

Dark Star Park

Nancy Holt

More than five years ago, in the spring of 1979, I was informed by Thomas Parker, then supervisor of the Arlington County Planning Section, that I had been selected to make a sculpture in a small park being planned in Rosslyn, Virginia.

Soon after, I visited the proposed area—a blighted urban site with the buried remains of a gas station and a warehouse, surrounded by broken asphalt, giant weeds, collapsed fencing, fragments of glass, rusty steel, and decaying wood. Since the site was relatively small, my immediate thought was to use all of it to create a park that would be a work of art in itself. Fortunately, both Arlington County and the National Endowment for the Arts were open to this new approach to making art, and I was designated the park designer as well as the sculptor.

See Also

Time Span
Nancy Holt
The Contemporary Austin, Laguna Gloria, Austin, Texas⁠
Hydra's Head
Nancy Holt
Along the Niagara River, Artpark, Lewiston, New York, USA