With low-cost, long-distance options like Vamoose, bus travel is on the ascendancy, especially when they can offer high-tech services like Wi-Fi. If we could apply some of that high-tech thinking to congestion management, they could really move.
A new COG survey has found an increase in telecommuting and a decrease in driving alone in the Washington metro region. Transit use is part of that equation–more than eight in ten respondents who live in inner ring communities live less than one half mile from a bus stop. But can they walk there easily and once they get there are they perched on the curb, rather than sitting under cover?
And if you can’t be green at least look green.
In March, one of our planners, Claudia Kousoulas, showed the difference in scale between urban development and the infrastructure underlying suburban development by overlaying the I-270/I-370 interchange on top of Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle area.
The amount of space we devote to moving cars is almost surreal at times. At Montrose Road, Interstate 270 is a whopping 14 lanes wide. At that rate, it seems we’re trying to rival places like Atlanta and Los Angeles.
But what is even more amazing is the amount of space we devote to storing cars. When people think of the automobile, it is invariably involved in going somewhere. But cars spend the vast majority of their time parked.
In Montgomery County, we devote about … Continue reading
guest post: Ben Gruswitz
I’ve been thinking less about good community design and more about a good process to get there—particularly augmenting the community’s role in that process. Community participation is a critical element of good community design, and we are always looking for better ways of engaging the community.
More and more this is happening through the web. The Straight Line and now our Director’s blog are just two examples of community engagement through the web. Friends of White Flint’s FLOG played a key role in promoting community participation in the White Flint Master Plan. And increasingly local bloggers are getting the word out about upcoming public meetings and doing follow-ups for people who missed them.
But beyond … Continue reading
guest post: Mary Dolan
The hot and humid weather has brought on a problem for the cucumbers and squash vines in the garden. Powdery Mildew, a common problem in this area, has attacked the plants causing the leaves to whiten and die. Some gardeners simply do not plant squash any more due to the heartbreak this disease can cause.
Since we are trying to solve these problems organically, we searched for an answer to our problem and found milk. Yes, spraying a 1 part skim milk to 9 parts water on all leaf surfaces once a week (after removing all infected leaves) is supposed to retard the spreadof the disease. Also, increasing air circulation by removing leaves and/or staking the plants should help.
… Continue reading
The MRO vegetable garden is thriving, despite record high heat and a watering restriction.
We’ve had a small harvest of herbs and greens and are watching the potatoes, beets, and peppers stretch out.
The garden also has a web page where you can see a video of staff gardeners talking about their goals for the garden.
A landscape or city is legible when it conveys information about itself. A place is most legible when it conveys information without the obvious devices of communication. Legibility is a kind of follow-your-nose sense that allows you to understand a place from both macro and micro signals.
Manhattan is legible though a grid punctuated by landmarks.
Miami Beach is ever-oriented between ocean and bay.
Most Greek villages run from a port, up the hill to a fort or church that takes the high ground.
The ebb and flow of commercial activity and social life in these places can be anticipated. You can figure out where the main shopping streets are and where people go to relax.
Legibility works in different dimensions–from an … Continue reading
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
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
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 … Continue reading
Three articles in the New York Times caught my eye this weekend. Bill Cunningham cast his stylish eye on the revelers at reinvented Coney Island, the About New York column did a follow-up on trashed clothing found outside H&M and Walmart, and the City Critic wrote about the potential for water taxis in Hudson and East Rivers.
They all come down to infrastructure and how you use it. Places, things, and ideas that we’ve abandoned often deserve a second look; they can have new value as our own values change. We used to think it was great to have a car and drive everywhere. Now, gassing it up, jockeying for lane space, and trying to park it can be an expensive pain. A fresh … Continue reading