Posted: by

Depending on your media preferences, you may have heard about a new book by the Brookings Institute, The Metropolitan Revolution. In it, authors Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley postulate that with the Federal government in partisan gridlock and facing the costs of caring for an aging population, large infrastructure, education, and economic investments are taking place in America’s metropolitan areas through coalitions of local government, business, labor, philanthropic, and education leaders. In an NPR interview, Katz makes the point that as the economy changes so does American geography. From the primacy of port cities to swaths of industrial acreage, each economy has its spatial geography. Katz says the new digital economy that seeks interaction to create innovation is locating in… Read more »

Posted: by

Roads, parking garages, even trails rarely have the urban glamour of Italian hill towns, grand plazas, or museums and symphony halls. For many planners and architects, they are the unfortunate necessities that make a place work and are often treated accordingly. But as this article in Better Cities and Towns shows, infrastructure can add drama to the urban profile and fun to daily life. What particulalry got me interested in the topic was looking at how we talk about parking garages. The only solution appears to be hiding them, screening them, making them look like something else. While some of these examples in Miami are truly extraordinary, more of them are replicable and through their design, location, and tenanting, add… Read more »

Posted: by

  Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation released their annual list of the 11 most endangered places in the U.S. While none of them are in Montgomery County, the list includes two mid-century modern buildings–the Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport and the Houston Astrodome–a recogonition that recent history is also historic. In fact, The National Register of Historic Places, which sets out criteria for historic designation, generally recognizes that 50 years is a reasonable remove from which to conisder history. The register is alos looking for buildings associate with events or a noted person, those that can share information or reflect the work of a master, and those that exhibit unique construction or artistry. That age deadline and those criteria have… Read more »

Posted: by

ULI recently announced the finalists in its Urban Open Space Award competition and a local site is in the mix. I really love the Yards Park, for its re-use and upgrade of an abandoned resource–the Anancostia Rvierfront and for its design details. You can read more of our observations and see pictures here, but these finalists all embody  features of good urban spaces. ULI is looking for spaces that “encouraged economic and social rejuvination in their neighborhoods” and these projects in Nashville, Vancouver, California, as well as DC incorporate urbansim into park design. They are places to watch other people–strolling. splashing, or sitting. People in cities take their energy from other people–whether it’s on sidewalks or in parks. These parks… Read more »

Posted: by

  Casey Trees, a D.C.-based nonprofit, committed to restoring, enhancing and protecting the tree canopy of the nation’s capital, is sponsoring a “Conversation on Tree Risk” at their headquarters at 3030 12th Street NE. The conversation will be led by Keith Cline of the USDA Forest Service and will run from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. The event is free and you can get there via the Brookland-CUA Metro. Pick up a ticket here.            

Posted: by

For the first time, Smart Growth America has gathered enough comparable development data to determine a national average of what communities can expect to save by using smart growth strategies. Smart growth, most genreally described as an efficient use of land by building mixed uses near each other in a well-connected pattern of walking, biking, and transportation options. Kind of makes quick back of the envelope sense. If communities don’t have to spend to extend roads or water and sewer pipes, or if an ambulance doesn’t have to drive as far, or if residents can use a renovated and expanded existing library, communities eat up fewer tax dollars. More efficient use of new and existing infrastructure has long term budget benefits… Read more »

Posted: by

By the end of the summer, the first Capital bikeshare will be open in Montgomery County. In the meantime, here are some interesting statistics about bike riding and bike-friendly places. Capital Bikeshare has released the second part of its user’s survey–who report spending less money on transportation, and being more physically fit. But it takes some infrastrucutre investment to get those benefits. American Bicyclists have released some nice infographics on increasingly bike-friendly places–the DC metro region has increased by 315%. Ding, ding–on your left!

Posted: by

Montgomery County in the mid-century era experienced great change. Montgomery was the fourth fastest growing county in the nation. The population grew from less than 90,000 in 1946 to nearly 580,000 by 1974. Change also came in the pace of life, as cars and new highways enabled ever increasing speeds, but also in the scale of the perceived environment, as space exploration made the universe seem to be the limit. A new era called for new building forms, made possible with innovative technologies. By the early 1960s, architects were experimenting with a variety of roof forms. The zigzag roof of the Sligo Adventist Elementary School must have been a striking contrast to the traditional flat roof schools that had been… Read more »

Posted: by

The value of historic preservation is often expressed in terms that are difficult to quantify. We are preserving cultural patrimony, maintaining a sense of place, safeguarding our architectural heritage. But what if we could hang a number on the value of historic preservation?  Actually, we can. Look at tax credits issued for rehabbing historic properties. Montgomery County provides a 10-percent tax credit for qualified work on properties listed in the County’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation or located in County-designated historic districts. The State of Maryland and federal government also offer rehabilitation tax credits that some property owners may be able to receive on top of the county’s program. In 2012, the historic preservation commission reviewed applications for the county’s… Read more »

Posted: by

Pop quiz: match the zone categories with the acreage for Montgomery County (this excludes municipalities with their own zoning authority). Click to enlarge: The answers, which may surprise you, are on the next page along with graphic representations.