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Before moving to the DC area two years ago, I had lived in New York City for the previous 18 . Never owned a car there (or a local driver’s license!),and it wasn’t until I relocated here that I realized how effortless it was to live a pedestrian life there…Stores were abundant and usually well stocked; restaurants, museums, and galleries were everywhere (…mostly frequented by tourists that we locals had to put up with); and in general whatever you needed ), was at your disposal 24 hours a day.

It’s been a bit of a struggle for me to sustain a similar pedestrian life here. I am still coming to terms with giving up an almost zero carbon footprint … Continue reading

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Tacking onto Elza’s post on Silver Spring’s future form, I came across this building a few weeks ago and couldn’t help but think of Fenton Village. It’s cheerful, gritty, and almost certainly would feel at home in a neighborhood that already boasts an array of colors, from the similarly red Pyramid Atlantic to the tastefully pink Jackie’s Restaurant.

And while the Burnside Rocket may seem to offer little in the way of architectural distinction other than a few eccentric shutters painted by local artists (which I think are quite neat), between its crimson painted walls is a powerhouse at work. The LEED-Platinum certified structure is built both to last, approximately 300 years according to the project’s website, and operate … Continue reading

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Mohamed Elrafal is a native of Egypt and a former antiques dealer who runs the Ali Baba Falafel cart at the Bethesda Farm Women’s Market. By allowing a complementary use to lease space, the market gains income to stay viable in the midst of redevelopment (the market is zoned CBD-1).

Elrafal serves falafel, gyro, and his mother’s recipe for ful medames, a traditional Egyptian street food of stewed fava beans that is so good, it will make you rethink your relationship to legumes. The guy is really cooking. His falafel is spiced with whole cardamom seeds and accompanied by distinctly seasoned red cabbage, banana peppers, and vinegary lettuce. It’s wrapped in a thinner pita than the gyros, which get … Continue reading

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DC-based Division1 Architects are stepping up with some cool contemporary design on the Avenue in Silver Spring. Their ALC, Inc., headquarters building at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Ripley Street (just a few doors down from the new home of Joe’s Record Paradise!) transforms a shuttered Italianate-ish pawn brokerage into a multi-layered bit-of-the-other, with planes and masses sliding along and above each other and peek-a-boo window slot.

The use of the wood slats brings warmth to the crisp white brick and dark slate and adds a new color (no disrespect to the meineke or Pyramid Atlantic!) to the maroons and grays of the district. As it moves deeper into Ripley Street, the building also features the best addition … Continue reading

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One of the most fascinating pieces of public art in Silver Spring is “Coastline,” a sculpted water feature by Jim Sanborn, which is tucked into the plaza near the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at 1301 East-West Highway. For those who know it is there – mostly office workers from the surrounding complex – it is a wonderful place to relax during lunch or coffee breaks. And the lucky kids who come across the piece are transfixed by the threat and prospect of being hit by the spray of the surf.

The sculpture: A large, pneumatically activated pool that sends waves crashing into stacked, sculpted red granite, creating an intense sound and sense of dynamism to which most water … Continue reading