To keep up with emerging ideas, highlight especially important works, and provide diverse views on issues in planning and design, I will be highlighting some of my past and current readings over the next year. To begin, I’d like to feature a pair of books from one of the best authors in architecture and urban studies: Witold Rybczynski. Two of his books contrast the extremes of development: Last Harvest (2007) and City Life (1995). (For now, I will forgo his wonderful biography of Frederick Law Olmsted, A Clearing in the Distance, and his latest, Makeshift Metropolis.)
The subtitle of Last Harvest is a summary of its theme: “How a Cornfield Became New Daleville: Real Estate Development in America from … Continue reading
On a busman’s holiday, I had a chance to bicyle around Palm Beach and noticed that, not surprisingly, the one percent get some pretty nice urban design.
But what is surprising is that whether you’re in the one percent or the 99 percent, the bones are the same. Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue was created very much the way Federal Realty does a Bethesda Avenue or Foulger Pratt does an Ellsworth Avenue.
Worth Avenue, Bethesda Avenue, and Ellsworth Avenue are all parallel or perpendicular to the main traffic artery. You get onto Palm Beach island via Royal Palm Way, a spectacularly landscaped boulevard with green median and four travel lanes. But make no mistake, shopping and strolling are a few blocks to … Continue reading
…imagine if hundreds of thousands of people didn’t take Metro everyday. That trip to Tyson’s Corner malls would be a Christmas time nightmare everyday.
A recent WMATA study modeled the region without transit to measure economic benefits–property values increased, jobs in a regional economy, freeway lanes and parking garages not built.
It’s clear that quality of life comes from a complex set public and private investments and variety in housing, transportation, recreation can feed that complexity.
As a part of the Purple Line, Montgomery County will fund upgrades to the Capital Crescent Trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring. Tomorrow, the Planning Board will hear recommendations from its transportation planning staff about several issues facing the trail. After hearing testimony, the Planning Board will send recommendations to the Montgomery County Council.
The current design from the Maryland Transit Administration includes a number of improvements to the trail. The upgraded trail will be expanded to 12 feet wide, where feasible, and paved. Additionally, the trail will be extended from its current terminus at Lyttonsville 1.5 miles farther east to Downtown Silver Spring. New overpasses or underpasses will be provided over Connecticut Avenue, Jones Mill Road, 16th Street, … Continue reading
Part of what makes Seaside and its ilk so successful is their attention to detail. And by detail I don’t mean what one observant designer called “frosting”– banners, lamposts, and fountains.
A more structural approach to designing a space or place begins with elements that are obvious in plan view–terminated views, street grids, and a central square. That initial street grid is punctuated by a square, then further embroidered with paths and smaller spaces.
But even those public spaces and paths are treated with varying levels of complexity. The formal public lawn is neatly mown and edged, but other spaces are more casual.
The path in front of your house is paved and raked, the one behind a barefoot … Continue reading
This year, Seaside is 30 years old and whatever you think of Andres Duany and the Congress for New Urbanism, any observer of urbanism must admit that Seaside has changed the vocabulary.
The pattern of main street, grid streets, mixed facades, and public space is part of every Federal Realty project and appears on our own Ellsworth Street.
Along Florida’s Gulf Coast, Seaside neighbors Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach, and the Watercolor resort have picked up the vocabulary and created a sense of place, community, and style along the coast road, 30A.
Duany etal have identified a fundamental human pleasure in strolling a certain type of built space, and have, most importantly, made that space marketable. From Seaside to Kentlands, … Continue reading
Food trucks are an urban trend that is hard to keep up with. Do they compete with or complement stationary businesses? Are they sufficiently regulated for health, safety, and welfare? Are they unsightly or exciting?
Well, they’ve morphed again. Real Food Farm trucks in Baltimore are bringing fresh produce to neighborhoods, and sometimes even to your door. On the one hand, it’s a service with a bit of social engineering–bringing good food to people who need it and connecting farmers to new markets.
But it is also an update of a Baltimore tradition of street peddlers, known as A-rabbers. Once again, the new urbanism updates the old urbanism.
by Scott Whipple
At Wednesday’s Historic Preservation Commission meeting, the HPC completed their review of the calendar year 2010 historic preservation tax credit applications, recommending approval of a total of 59 applications. The projects represent nearly $1 million invested, much of which went directly into Montgomery County’s economy in the form of maintenance to and rehabilitation of historic properties designated in the County’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation. And the credits put $98,344 back in the pockets of county property owners.
A study of the Maryland rehab tax credit program, prepared by the Abell Foundation in 2009, called historic preservation tax credits a “community revitalization engine.” The Abell report found that the state program stimulated investment, created jobs, and improved economies. In … Continue reading
Scientific American’s special issue on cities covers nearly every urban topic you can think of, from the not so lost aromas of New York’s Fulton Fish Market to the history of the toilet and its influence on the growth of cities. From China to Saudi Arabia, from street markets to solar energy, the issue examines technological and social aspects of urban settlements.
Closer to home, one article asks “Can Suburbs be Designed to Do Away with the Car,” using King Farm in Rockville as an example of the challenges inmaking suburbs and suburbanites transit-friendly. There are plenty of reader comments with the usual claims of elitism and happiness; see where your ideas fall.
Planners in Montgomery County are working to determine how to best accommodate bicyclists as the county continues to grow. They’ve created a tool known as a “heat map” to figure out the best places to invest in bike infrastructure.
With limited funds, planners have to prioritize bike infrastructure, just like other types of infrastructure. This tool should help planners figure out which projects will have the biggest impact.
As expected, the primary bicycle hot spots are in the more urban communities in the downcounty area. Silver Spring, Bethesda, and Friendship Heights top the list of areas with high cycling demand.
Wheaton, White Flint, and Rockville also have high demand for cycling infrastructure.
The map was developed by measuring proximity … Continue reading