Positively Parking (Part 1 of 3)

Posted: by

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

Posted: by

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

Old Becomes New in Downtown Silver Spring

Posted: by

Guest Post: Scott Whipple

Montgomery County residents of a certain age will recall when the Colesville Road J.C. Penney’s was a back-to-school shopping ritual. Its Art Deco façade, neon signage, and brightly illuminated windows attracted shoppers from across the region. Combined with Hecht’s and Jelleff’s, it contributed to the vibrancy that made Silver Spring Maryland’s second largest shopping destination.

In 1985, the Planning Board recognized the store’s architectural and historical significance, listing it in the Locational Atlas and Index of Historic Sites as part of a historic district in Silver Spring’s Central Business District. But the Locational Atlas provides limited protection for identified resources.  Subsequently, the building’s owners were allowed to demolish the rear of the store but were … Continue reading

Cooper-Hewitt Design Triennial

Posted: by

Every three years, curators at the Cooper-Hewitt (The National Design Museum, the only Smithsonian Museum outside Washington, and the only one you have to pay to visit) gather what designers around the world are pursuing.

This year, much of the work has to do with sustainability. The way the curators sorted it all reminded me of our own Rethink Speakers Series, organized around topics.

The exhibition addresses Energy, Mobility, Community, Materials, Prosperity, Health, Communication, and Simplicity, similar to our own principles of planning sustainability. The products and projects range from high tech efforts like a solar-powered cargo ship to a rattan bike trailer for Indian housewives.

Planners will be interested in the Community projects, ranging from Medellin, Colombia, where the … Continue reading

Historic Preservation Can Mean Sustainable Communities and Sustainable Jobs

Posted: by

 guest blogger: Lisa Mroszczyk

There is another angle to the sustainability argument.

Rehabilitation projects are labor intensive rather than materials intensive. The need for skilled labor creates jobs that are often sourced locally, whereas manufacturers of materials for new construction are not. This results in more dollars going to people within the community, who turn around and spend that money locally, contributing to the viability of the local economy.

Donovan Rypkema, with the Washington, D.C.-based real estate and economic development consulting firm PlaceEconomics, completed a study on The Value of Historic Preservation in Maryland in 1999 which asked “Does historic preservation mean jobs?” The study concluded that, “In Maryland the answer is an unequivocal ‘yes.’”  The report also found … Continue reading

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

Posted: by

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

Recycle More than Just Your Water Bottle

Posted: by

guest blogger:  Lisa Mroszczyk

Recycle your house and neighborhood.

During National Preservation Month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation reminds us that just as old buildings are sustainable, so are old communities. Older communities are often built closer to economic centers, they are smaller and have viable existing infrastructure, and can be retrofitted for walking, biking, and transit use. In contrast, developing previously undeveloped land is energy and material intensive and can have significant environmental impacts. The rehabilitation and reuse of buildings in denser, centrally located historic districts and the preservation of agricultural land prevents sprawl and reduces impacts on the environment. 

Architect Carl Elefante, author of “The Greenest Building Is…One That Is Already Built,” describes the relationship of preservation to … Continue reading

Old Buildings and Old Energy

Posted: by

Guest Post by Lisa Mroszczyk

Think of all the energy it has taken over generations to build the County’s existing building stock. This expenditure is embodied energy—the energy already invested to process materials, transport them, and finally construct a building.  Demolition wastes embodied energy.  When that waste is factored in with the energy needed to transport demolished building materials to a landfill and the energy needed to construct a new building on the site, any net energy savings typically doesn’t kick in for three or four decades.

Reusing existing buildings conserves energy and reduces construction and demolition debris in landfills. During National Preservation Month, we are reminded of historic preservation’s role in sustainability.

The Brookings Institution predicts that by … Continue reading

Climbing the Walls…

Posted: by

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

Old is the New Green

Posted: by

Guest blogger: Lisa Mroszczyk

Yes, you read that right.  Many older buildings, particularly those constructed prior to 1920, are green. May is National Preservation Month and the National Trust for Historic Preservation is using the month-long celebration to highlight the important role that older and historic buildings play in environmentally and economically sustainable communities.

Often, older buildings were designed and built to work with the environment. Buildings with operable windows provide natural ventilation and daylight. Covered porches, awnings and shutters reduce solar heat gain in the warmer months. Thoughtful orientation of the building on its site maximizes wind and sun patterns.  In fact, U.S. Energy Information Agency research establishes that buildings built prior to 1920 are more energy efficient … Continue reading