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Artisphere Arlington's Lincoln Center became the Grant's Tomb of Rossyln.

Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

Surprised that Artisphere has not fared well since its opening last October? You shouldn’t be. The Arlington County-backed cultural center had dreams of being Rosslyn’s third place. It would have an in-house restaurant and palatably weird arts programming, injecting some vitality into an otherwise drab business district. But the idea of centralizing cultural activities has been out of fashion for decades, and for good reason: Free admission and late hours weren’t enough to entice that young, creative foot traffic. With visitor counts way below projections, a revamped business plan now calls for less art and more event rentals. Even that seems a bit of a stretch. Edginess might work a couple of stops out on the Orange Line, but Rosslyn’s reputation just won’t let Artisphere be great.

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