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I like the concept of Jolie-Laide: Beauty and the Beast.  While Montgomery County undoubtedly has a burdensome share of beastly buildings, some so crystallize the product of their time that they rise above.  Taken head-on it is not much to look at, but obliquely the minimally monikered (sorry)  Silver Spring’s “Garage 2”, at the intersection of Fenton Street and Cameron Street, is a civic building with moments of majesty that reminds me of Peter Behrens 1909 Tubinenfabrik in Berlin.

For your delectation:

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Right around the corner from the parking garage I showed yesterday is a very nice integration of retail into a parking garage.  It is difficult to say if the result was intentional or serendipitous and I think the success relies in part on the proximity of the surrounding buildings.  But I appreciate what looks like design intent made manifest.

The sharp contrast between the stark bright(ish) white and the shock of red establishes a nice hierarchy and rhythm for that side facade, while the tower anchors the corner and announces there is something there.

What you wouldn’t know from the pictures, however, is that the door on the longer facade is somewhat of a side door, entering into a … Continue reading

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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

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Facade-ism.  Facade-omy.  Building facades are harder to design than they look.  Especially with bigger buildings.  Look around you.

There are always of course excellent examples.  The National Gallery of Art, West Wing, designed by the fabulous John Russel Pope, is a beautiful building.

DC architect Phil Esocoff also does a nice job with attractive facade design.

There are far more stinkers, however.  For design, I prefer smaller buildings.  Like small gardens or landscapes, there is usually room for only one organizing principle and its elegant elaboration.  The rowhouse is a good urban example of this and the DC area has a wealth of fetching specimens in Alexandria, Georgetown, Dupont Circle, and of course Capitol Hill.  Another local architect, Amy … Continue reading

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Guest Post: Scott Whipple

Montgomery County residents of a certain age will recall when the Colesville Road J.C. Penney’s was a back-to-school shopping ritual. Its Art Deco façade, neon signage, and brightly illuminated windows attracted shoppers from across the region. Combined with Hecht’s and Jelleff’s, it contributed to the vibrancy that made Silver Spring Maryland’s second largest shopping destination.

In 1985, the Planning Board recognized the store’s architectural and historical significance, listing it in the Locational Atlas and Index of Historic Sites as part of a historic district in Silver Spring’s Central Business District. But the Locational Atlas provides limited protection for identified resources.  Subsequently, the building’s owners were allowed to demolish the rear of the store but were … Continue reading

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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

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To see why biking is N.I.C.E. click here.  Hopefully, we can soon tap into the regional bike-sharing network that is starting in DC and Arlington.

And if you ever get around to hoping on a bike, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to perch on one of Kara Ginther‘s seats.  Ah, the joys of synchronicity:  art meets bike news in my inbox.

Sometimes being vegan is no fun…….maybe I can custom order one in pleather.

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For all those cyclists that find the ‘burbs an unfriendly place to bike, you can take comfort that it’s not as bad as it could be. A friend sent this to me under the facetious heading “Finally, a town who’s planning decisions I can get behind,” and it’s just too precious not to share.

It seems the town of Black Hawk, Colorado has thought it wise to prohibit cycling on all public streets. The city claims that “with all the buses, trucks and cars already trying to crowd the historic town’s narrow streets, the addition of bikes is a hazard.” According to officials, the new law has the full support of the citizenry and the local casinos, which happen … Continue reading