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This year’s film festival takes a broad view of the enivronment, covering not only the natural environment, but the built environment as well.

Films on Samuel Mockbee’s Rural Studio, the green contextual architecture of Rick Joy and Kieran Timberlake, and the impact of car-based development on the city of Istanbul explore individual and collective design decisions–some more considered than others.

Also, someone has finally made a film about my favorite historian of all time–Vincent Scully. He is certainly a great lecturer whose words, images, and ideas create an inspiring flow in his audience. His sense of humor is charming; he apologized to an audience of architects for showing a picture in which his wife had marched into the frame and posed–this kind … Continue reading

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According to Witold Rybczynski in Slate, Gehry’s New World Symphony in Miami Beach proves he’s back. I’m not sure where he went, but the building is a well-detailed box that adds the civic-friendly option of turning itself inside out by broadcasting performances on the building to a lawn park.

This is bascially a programming decision as much as a design decision, as is the building’s interface with the the park and the way the park functions. Interface and progamming are a lot of what makes a place pleasing and interesting. So an empty lot in Silver Spring becomes a weekend market or a Miami warehouse becomes a Sunday afternoon hangout.

Gehry’s building is nicely detailed, but it’s … Continue reading

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Bethesda Green’s TEDx meet-up on Changing the Way We Eat drew local farmers and food innovators. You can read Bethesda Green’s report here and watch the speakers as well.

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Bethesda Green sponsored a TEDx meet up this past Saturday on “Changing the Way We Eat,” and although the speakers were based in New York, the local viewers took time to introduce themselves and their efforts in local food and to discuss the potential for local food in Montgomery County.

 

So after Laurie David talked about the importance of family dinner and Carolyn Steele’s TED talk about How Food Shapes our Cities, we heard from Mike Kennedy, a board member of the innovative model Fox Haven Farm, from Kristina Bostick who works with Montgomery Countryside Alliance to make the County’s Agricultural Reserve into a food porducing resource, and Greg Glenn of Rocklands Farm, which is starting out with … Continue reading

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Nordin Grabsi, who has been trying to run the Ali Baba Felafel truck at the Bethesda Farm Women’s Market, may finally have to shut down his popular stand. He is unable to meet County standards for a mobile food truck, but it also seems the County standards don’t recognize the growing and changing food truck business.

As one of the commenters on the Bethesda Patch site wrote, “I hate to see this happen, particularly since food carts are becoming more popular and interesting…”.

And this is not just a problem for Ali Baba, other food carts have also moved or shut down, just when things are getting interesting. And as well as possibly outdated regulations, there also seem to … Continue reading

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Rockville’s King Farm was designed as a transit friendly community, with a gridded street pattern lined by street fronting homes on small lots. So that’s the community part. Now that the transit part is coming along, the pull of suburban standards is proving strong.

In this article, A Community Planned for Transit Now Resists It,  residents are quoted as saying the transit line will create a wall within the community. But this is not the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and King Farm is not Union station.

Why do people never point out that waiting with your neighbor at a station in the morning is a great time to chat and get to know each other–much better than driving home in … Continue reading

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According to articles in the Washington Post and the City Paper, the District’s Department of Transportation has taken big steps in making the city more bike- and pedestrian-friendly.

Barne’s dance crossings and hawk signals give pedestrians priority over cars at intersections, and out of a goal of 80 miles of bike lanes, 49 have been completed. The city’s bike-share program is an early success with residents and visitors. Residents find it easier and cheaper to pick up a bike at a corner station than owning their own and schleping it into their homes.

In fact, according to the City Paper, one of the biggest problems seems to be developing enough places to bike to. As they quoted Gabe Klein, Director of … Continue reading

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guest post by Alex Hutchinson

If a car were blocking a major intersection, it would be towed within minutes. Yet this telephone pole gets a free pass despite being directly in front of the Silver Spring Police Station.

Walk around Silver Spring and you’re likely to notice the numerous light poles, parking meters, and electrical boxes inconveniently placed in the middle of sidewalks and curb ramps.

Through a comprehensive set of sidewalk and street improvements, we can restore equal access while promoting healthy walkable communities.

Planners and traffic engineers are spreading the gospel of complete streets – streets that provide equal access to bicycle, pedestrian, transit, or car users regardless of age or ability. Complete streets … Continue reading

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Guest Post by Alex Hutchinson

Whether it’s the Boundary Bridge that straddles Rock Creek right outside Silver Spring or the Cabin John Bridge nestled into Glen Echo, I love the bridges our region boasts.  I’m no gephyrophobiac, bridges don’t scare me one bit. But there is one bridge that makes me uneasy–and no, it’s not the Tacoma Narrows— it’s the Downtown Silver Spring Library bridge. Despite the fact the Planning Board voted 8-1 against the bridge, it has once again become part of our local discourse. Here’s why I hope this bridge wobbles into oblivion.

It’s been argued that the proposed bridge is the best and most economic way of achieving accessibility for all. Silver Spring already has a skywalk: the bridge that … Continue reading

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Transportation planners talk about mode share, trip mitigation, and relative arterial mobility all displayed in charts and graphs. But there is a human element to using transit. Why would you shower, dress, and walk down the hill to stand here while your neighbors whip past in their BMWs, warm, dry, singing along to Norah Jones, and a swigging a latte?

Montgomery County has a great local bus system, the Ride Ons, which course through neighborhoods connecting to central business districts, Metro, and regional buses. They are clean, relatively prompt, and reasonably priced. Seniors and students get a price break, increasing access, and some of the fleet is running on compressed natural gas, encouraging good green behavior.

But in a … Continue reading