The Rules

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Where do you park your car? Of course, in front of your house. What would your neighbors say if you parked in front of their house?

How quickly do you shovel your sidewalk after it snows? Do you shovel your steps and the elderly lady’s next door?

If there is garbage on your street, do you pick it up, even if it’s not yours, even if it’s not in front of your house?

Remember why the big fat Greek wedding family was embarrassing? Not because they cooked a lamb on a spit (though that’s a little weird), but because they cooked it in the front yard. They broke the unwritten rule of suburbia, cookouts happen in the backyard!

The … Continue reading

NoLib3: The Piazza at Schmidts

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While stumbling around the Northern Liberties neighborhood looking at all of the new development, I spied down a narrow street an apartment building with a Corbusier-meets-Mondrian facade.  As I moved in for a closer look, I was confronted with the block-sized project that is The Piazza at Schmidts.  Developed by Tower Investments, Inc., and designed (in whole or in part) by Erdy McHenry (who did Liberties Walk),  the site features an “80,000 square foot open-air plaza with free events year-round, surrounded by three new buildings including 35 artist’s studios and boutiques, four new restaurants, 500 apartments and 50,000 square feet of office space” (according to their website; see also the New York Times Article).

As you move down the street, an open-air passage leads … Continue reading

Walking the Walk: Philly’s Northern Liberties Taken

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As I do every year, I took off my birthday yesterday (38 Special!).  This year I drove up to Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties and Fishtown neighborhoods to check out some architecture.  A developer called “Onion Flats” has been putting up some cool contemporary constructions, and I went to investigate.  What I found was that MANY developers are working on smaller and larger sections of these older residential communities, where the module is overwhelmingly the brick rowhouse, and every other block seemed to feature a new intervention.

Enter Liberties Walk, Tower Investment‘s mixed-use development designed by local architect Erdy McHenry, features a pedestrian-only walkway that runs for 3+ blocks.  According to Plan Philly, the 4-acre site accommodates 25 galleries, restaurants, and shops … Continue reading

Pyramid Atlantic Brings the “Noise”

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe — yes, THAT Goethe — is credited with describing architecture as “frozen music.”  As the snow melts away from the brightly colored and delightfully detailed Pyramid Atlantic, some of that music will be pooling for public consumption.

Sonic Circuits, an organization dedicated to providing “DC’s music and art communities with the opportunity to sample experimental and avant-garde electronic music, with an emphasis on improvisation and artistic use of new technologies,” will be holding its next performance at the center on Friday, March 19, 2010, at 8:00 pm.

Last week I saw Ms. Chen perform as part of a ten-piece improvisational group playing John Zorn’s “Cobra”, part of Baltimore’s excellent Mobtown Modern series; her contributions were … Continue reading

Beyond “The Mayor”: Fenton Village Character

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On the rare occasions that the words “architectural character” and “Fenton Village” are used in the same sentence, they are usually also joined by the words “lack”, “dearth”, and “paucity” (ADMIT IT!).  (For the uninitiated, the Fenton Village is centered one block east of Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, north of the train tracks.)   These exclamations are not without foundation: Silver Spring Towers, Safeway, and 8120 Fenton Street are not doing the street any favors.  Nor do the converted and expiring bungalows and four-squares suggest a Village with a unique character (cf. Forest Hills Gardens, et. al).

But the dedicated observer (thank you!) will notice that, scattered about its ten or twelve blocks, Fenton Village has many buildings … Continue reading