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The suburbs are often derided for being one-dimensional–row after row of “ticky-tacky.”

Turning a corner reveals no surprise, but sameness to the point of confusion. Isn’t the tired Dad who pulls into the wrong driveway a popular trope of movies, sit-coms, and commericals?

We can’t expect urban richness of the sort described by Alfred Kazin in A Walker in the City. The noise, smells, and general decrepitude would be unacceptable. But the hand of generations  can add layers, paths, and landmarks to a suburban landscape.

In Bethesda, a place more varied than you might imagine, there is some complexity created by the old B&O rail line that is now a segment of the Capital Crescent Trail. You can walk or bike into downtown and the Metro and gain new perspectives on roads and properties. Even more complexity will be added by a proposed trolley line.

By contrast, does Garage 59 create complexity or confusion? This is how the website directs you to the B-CC Regional Services Center:

“Take the long escalator to the bus bay level and then the escalator by the cascading fountain up to the plaza level. Turn left. Keep the Food Court on your left and walk up seven steps next to the red-painted railing. Walking straight ahead and then to the right, cross the pedestrian bridge with blue/green-painted ironwork. At the end of the bridge, follow the signs on your right to the “B-CC Center” entrance.”

Cascading fountain? Long escalator? Red-painted railing? What about the sword-wielding elf? Will I need to answer any riddles?

the beginning of your urban quest

now turn 180 degrees

the pilotis stand sentry

a bridge to somewhere?

can you get there from here?

good luck young quester

Where is the complexity or confusion in your neighborhood?

3 Responses to “Complexity and Confusion in the Suburbs”

  1. Stuart

    The buildings and walkways on top of and immediately around the Bethesda metro are a series of blown opportunities. Yuck.

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