Client: The City of Alexandria

Location: Alexandria, VA, United States

Completion date: 2021

Artwork budget: $125,000

Project Team


Joe Riche


Structural Engineering

Nick Geurts



Groundswell pays homage to this ever-evolving history and brings an element of play to the shoreline’s material topography. The installation features a ground mural depicting the floor of the Potomac River and more than 100 wood pilings throughout the site. They will range in heights from 12 to 42 inches, in accordance with the river floor topography, or bathymetry. Each 14-inch-diameter piling will be topped with a cobalt blue mirrored surface etched with growth rings that suggest the passing of time. They will glisten in the light like the nearby water, reflecting the sky, as well as the faces of passersby. Reigelman hopes visitors will be immersed in this shimmering landscape as they navigate through the pilings, considering their place in the city’s history at this moment in time.


Children’s toys, fossilized biscuits, stamped stoneware, hundreds of shoes. These are a few examples of the items unearthed in excavations along the Alexandria waterfront over the years, demonstrating its role as an ongoing hub of activity and commerce. As such, drastic measures were taken to manipulate Alexandria’s connection to the waterland. In the late 18th century, for example, wooden ships were intentionally sunk in an effort to extend the city’s shoreline. Meanwhile, thousands of timber pilings crept further and further into the Potomac, enacting the shoreline foundation that would shift as the city continued to develop. From a town standing upon lofty banks to one that bled deeper into the river each decade, these pilings created a fluctuating new boundary in the conversation between sea and shore. Groundswell seeks to recontextualize these quintessential maritime objects, pay homage to the space’s rich history, and bring an element of play to the shoreline’s material topography.

Additional Information

Commissioned to create an original installation for Waterfront Park, Reigelman focused on Alexandria’s working waterfront as the shoreline crept further into the Potomac River. In his research, he learned that drastic measures manipulated the city’s shoreline. Starting in the 18th century, thousands of timber pilings sprawled further into the Potomac River each decade, outlining the city’s shifting foundation. Alexandria grew from a town on a lofty riverbank to one with a sprawling dock that stretched along miles of artificially reclaimed land.