It’s a cool morning, the first in a long time, and the frayed leaves are starting to look less lush, but there’s still time to think about Summer Streets, New York City’s program to create a temporary 6.9 mile car-free route to encourage bicycling in the city.
Free bike rentals and repairs, free skate rental, rest stops, maps, and yes–you can cool off in a dumpster pool!–remove barriers and excuses.
I like the idea of temporarily rethinking the city. Trying out parks and bike routes is not only a physical test of infrastructure, but a test of how we function as individuals in our environment. Certain things are hard–biking, recycling, walking–not because they are inherently difficult, but because the infrastructure isn’t set up … Continue reading
When we think about urban environments we picture tall buildings, noisy traffic, and hard surfaces. But the real point of urban environments is people, lots of them, bouncing off each other—eating lunch in the square, going to the theater, crowding around a street performer, sharing a sidewalk. Cities bring people together.
Food also brings people together and one could think of urban spaces as giant family tables. After all, Napoleon didn’t describe Venice’s Piazza San Marco as “the finest drawing room in Europe” for nothing. A $15.00 lemonade at one of its cafés is worth every penny if you make good use of your plaza-side table.
Community spaces and tables are prevailing in private spaces as well. Metropolis Magazine … Continue reading
This Thursday, the Planning Board will review the County’s DHCA plans to upgrade the 25-year old streetscaping along Georgia Avenue between Selim Street and Silver Spring Avenue. The goals are to meet ADA standards and to install new soil panels that will help street trees reach full maturity.
But it’s more than a matter of setting in a few bricks and new trees. The design of the sidewalk space and its elements has to mediate among the needs of all users. Business owners want trees that don’t obscure their storefronts and signs. Curb edges and varied paving materials can hold up wheelchair users but can help blind pedestrians navigate. Agencies undertaking the work, trying to make the most out of … Continue reading
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: 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 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
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
Well, so far, so good. We survived that freaky hail storm a few weeks ago and the seedlings are grabbing whatever sun they can. With the invaluable help of our building maintenance crew we’ve worked out a way to water the garden with minimal hose lugging.
At last night’s weeding party we even harvested a few sprigs of basil, grabbed as they were about to flower. We also thinned the beets and swiss chard, and staked up the tomatoes, cukes, and pole beans.
Last night, Joan Almon, Executive Director of the Alliance for Childhood, reminded us of the importance of mud puddles.
She began by outlining the importance of play (that is, undirected messing around, preferably outside). It helps children develop negotiation and social skills, and coordination between their brains and hands. They learn to wonder, concentrate, and overcome challenges.
But these days, children 6-8 years old spend only 12 percent of their time outdoors. Children 10-16 spend only 12 minutes a day in vigorous physical activity, but 10 hours a day in sedentary activities (is that an oxymoron?). You won’t be surprised to learn that they spend a whopping 53 hours a week (about 7 hours a day) with media–whether its … Continue reading