Parking Mad?: Jolie-Laide (Part 3 of 3)

Posted by & filed under Architecture, Design.

I like the concept of Jolie-Laide: Beauty and the Beast.  While Montgomery County undoubtedly has a burdensome share of beastly buildings, some so crystallize the product of their time that they rise above.  Taken head-on it is not much to look at, but obliquely the minimally monikered (sorry)  Silver Spring’s “Garage 2”, at the intersection of Fenton Street and Cameron Street, is a civic building with moments of majesty that reminds me of Peter Behrens 1909 Tubinenfabrik in Berlin.

For your delectation:

Positively Parking (Part 2 of 3) Part of the Whole

Posted by & filed under Design.

Right around the corner from the parking garage I showed yesterday is a very nice integration of retail into a parking garage.  It is difficult to say if the result was intentional or serendipitous and I think the success relies in part on the proximity of the surrounding buildings.  But I appreciate what looks like design intent made manifest.

The sharp contrast between the stark bright(ish) white and the shock of red establishes a nice hierarchy and rhythm for that side facade, while the tower anchors the corner and announces there is something there.

What you wouldn’t know from the pictures, however, is that the door on the longer facade is somewhat of a side door, entering into a … Continue reading

Positively Parking (Part 1 of 3)

Posted by & filed under Architecture, Design, Planning, Public spaces, Zoning.

A lot of attention has been paid recently to parking.  The National Building Museum has an exhibit that closes in a couple of weeks.  Herzog and DeMeuron has their new disco garage in Miami, 1111 Lincoln Road.  Trenton, NJ, has a new scheme afoot.

Last month the International Parking Institute announced their 2010 design awards (bigger pictures available on ArchDaily).  Among the winners is part of the recent expansion of the Towson Town Center Mall north of Baltimore.  And while the street activation there is probably mostly still indoors, the project shows a successful integration of retail and parking.

The primary facade, as it were, holds the corner of Dulaney Valley Road and Fairmount Avenue, on what used to … Continue reading

Elevating Contemporary Facades

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Facade-ism.  Facade-omy.  Building facades are harder to design than they look.  Especially with bigger buildings.  Look around you.

There are always of course excellent examples.  The National Gallery of Art, West Wing, designed by the fabulous John Russel Pope, is a beautiful building.

DC architect Phil Esocoff also does a nice job with attractive facade design.

There are far more stinkers, however.  For design, I prefer smaller buildings.  Like small gardens or landscapes, there is usually room for only one organizing principle and its elegant elaboration.  The rowhouse is a good urban example of this and the DC area has a wealth of fetching specimens in Alexandria, Georgetown, Dupont Circle, and of course Capitol Hill.  Another local architect, Amy … Continue reading

“Is that a zinc house?”: Newish on Newark

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Saturday’s DC Garden Open Day, hosted by the Garden Conservancy, took us down the exclusive streets and well-screened back yards of six well-heeled — and pooled — Washingtonians (did my sons crawl under author Christopher Buckley’s trampoline?).  We were about do head into another beautiful garden when my wife got my attention by asking “Is that a zinc house?”

Indeed it was.  This house, at 3530 Newark Street, NW, was designed by Travis Price Architects and has a sleek LucasArts starship feel.  Assumedly pre-weathered zinc cladding form an outer shield, with minimal openings and a blunt-faced bay on one side and a curved slicing edge on the other.  Atop a stone base, the soft underbelly of this creature is mostly … Continue reading

Area Gardens Open Saturday

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One of the nice things about being an architect is that the world is your ongoing precedent research.  Tell people — including security guards — that you’re an architect, and you may be granted special access to spaces not regularly opened to the average citizen (or perhaps even forgiven a slight trespass?).

Although the forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms, architects, landscape architects, and our fellow citizens at large are all invited into the backyards of a selection of (usually fairly upmarket) private residences in the DC area this Saturday as part of the Garden Conservancy’s Garden Open Day program.

There is a modest entry fee for each garden.  We’ve gone several times over the last five years or so … Continue reading

Climbing the Walls…

Posted by & filed under Architecture, Design, Public spaces.

Frank Lloyd Wright is supposed once to have said that “A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.”   Our new CR zone provides bonus density for doing the same thing (not burying mistakes…nevermind).  But all irony aside, Green Walls, Living Walls, Vertical Gardens, etc.  are gaining currency and are being installed with greater frequency in a variety of locations.

The leader in the field seems to be Frenchman Patrick Blanc, with many installations to his credit including Jean Nouvel‘s Musee du Quai Branly in Paris.

(photo: deconarch)

Other Parisian examples include the Fondation Cartier and the BHV Homme Department Store.

(photo: urban greenery)

Another cool garden spot faces Herzog & … Continue reading

In My Back Yard…and In Town!

Posted by & filed under Planning, Public spaces.

Last weekend we visited the Glover-Archbald Community Garden, near DC’s National Cathedral (and 2Amys Pizza!), to drop off some straw for a friend’s patch (Image above lifted from Prince of Petworth).  Nearly three acres, the community garden is one of several associated with the District’s Field to Fork Initiative.  Our Montgomery County Parks Department Community Gardens Program is a similar effort.  For folks without the proper room or aspect for gardens in their yards, community garden plots are an excellent opportunity to bring nature into more urbanized areas, connect people back to the soil, and produce some mighty fine fruit and veg in the process.

In addition to the programs mentioned above, urban agriculture is on the minds of … Continue reading

Philly Wrap-Up 1: Split-Level House in the Street

Posted by & filed under Architecture, Design.

Fitting “contemporary” design into existing neighborhoods and development can be a tricky business, especially where the existing character is strongly defined and fairly uniform.  As new projects fill in holes in our more-developed areas of Montgomery County, designers will mount these challenges with greater and lesser success.

A good case study is the Split-Level House in Philadelphia.  Designed by local architect Qb, it has been featured in several design magazines and websites (including the fantastic  But seeing the buildings close-up and in context (which is often conspicuously absent in much architecture coverage) is the real test for how the design works.

So here’s the shot down 4th Street.  The height is in the right place, but I think … Continue reading

On the (Brooklyn) Waterfront

Posted by & filed under Design, Public spaces.

Brooklyn continues to reclaim its waterfront for public use.  The Brooklyn Heights Promenade, perched atop the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, offers a delightfully open place to…promenade…and has great views of Manhattan (even in the rain).

The newest piece of this collection of public spaces will be Brooklyn Bridge Park, an extensive redevelopment of the Brooklyn waterfront south of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Pier 1, the only completed section, opened while we were there.  Our lads, while not tots, gave it a thorough going over.

Portions of the riverwalk had also been completed and were open.  With the rain that bedeviled our time in the borough, however, only park maintenance staff and people whose kids had been cooped up and needed exertion were about.