Initially the failed dream of Dr. Carl Wiehle who had incorporated the town of Wiehle in 1897, the new town of Reston today is recognized by urban planners as a tremendously successful development. In 1961, developer Robert E. Simon proposed the creation of a creative and visionary use of the Smith Bowman farm to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. His proposal was in keeping with a greater Washington area land use plan done in the late 1950s that laid out a series of rings and growth sectors around the City. The Smith Bowman Farm, later to be named Reston, was at a confluence of a sector and ring and was designated as a growth node. The Smith Bowman family called their farm "Sunset Hills Farm" upon which they also operated the only legal bourbon distillery in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The distillery at the corner of Old Reston Ave. and Sunset Hills Road is where their "Virginia Gentleman" brand of bourbon was made in Reston until the 1970s and is still made in Virginia at the relocated distillery.
The original master plan contemplated a town center surrounded by a series of communities of varying densities and housing styles, each clustered around a village center of commercial retail, neighborhood offices and higher residential densities. Residential densities at the periphery of the villages and the periphery of Reston were to be low with single family homes with successively greater densities as the village centers are reached.