Sometimes a parking lot lies between you and your heart’s desire – reaching the café to buy a frappucino, enjoying a quiet moment along a shaded stream, dropping by your favorite lunch spot. Or perhaps the car-choked lot is the gateway to your workplace.
Parking lots are rarely places of delight and walking through one often feels like being trapped in a nasty computer game.
Well, a couple of us who regularly advocate for squeezing every possible bit of walkability into communities decided to get our own house in order. Witness the bright new path through our parking lot at the Planning Department’s headquarters in Silver Spring.
This walkway connects the Woodside Park neighborhood to the north with Downtown … Continue reading
The Planning Department has launched its second annual Design Excellence Award competition. We are looking for exceptional work in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design that has been completed in Montgomery County over the past decade.
The goal of the awards program is to promote outstanding design that improves the quality of the built environment in our county. By recognizing this work, the bar will continue to be set higher to further enhance the quality of community at all scales of development, from our urban centers to our rural reserves.
Award submissions are now being accepted through the Montgomery County Planning Department webpage through July 21, 2016. To enter, go to: www.montgomeryplanning.org/design/designaward2016.shtm
This year’s awards competition jury features highly … Continue reading
As many of you know, two streetcar lines are proposed for Arlington County: one along Columbia Pike and one through Crystal City.
Many of the benefits of the transit system are laid out in the planning vision for Columbia Pike & Crystal City, including:
Encouraging smart development; Providing attractive, comfortable, affordable transit, Encouraging revitalization, preservation, and affordability, and Spurring investment.
Another aspect of the project, however, is a commitment to integrate public art. In this case, Barbara Bernstein has been commissioned to create works for several bus shelters along the Crystal City line. Prototypes, renderings, and sample designs were on view until recently at the Arlington Arts Center, but information can still be found on their … Continue reading
What: 2011 NCPC Speaker Series Contemporary Design, Historic City: The Balancing Act Between Innovation & Preservation When: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 6:30 – 8:00 PM Where: Koubek Auditorium – Crough Center for Architectural Studies School of Architecture and Planning Catholic University of America
As a city filled with historic structures and landmarks, architectural preservation in the nation’s capital receives a lot of attention. Yet, as Washington continues to evolve, there exists a growing need for new development and a desire for more modern and inventive architecture. Making sure the two can successfully co-exist is the responsibility of the agencies involved in the planning and design review process. Join a panel of distinguished design and planning experts as they explore … Continue reading
Several sculptural seating elements were created in the plaza space at the new United Therapeutics campus in Silver Spring (corner of Cameron and Spring) and I’ve only begun investigating their interactive potential. Scattered throughout the space and into the sidewalk, these 17- 23-inch poly-resin pieces are shaped like inverted cones stuck into the ground. Several have the symbols of elements, others have designs, most are undecorated.
Although fun and functional during the day, their real impact is seen – and heard – at night. The translucent poly-resin material houses LED lights that change color in random patterns based on pedestrian motion or according to a program. Whether this feature is “on” yet, I can’t tell – the colors intensified … Continue reading
The group got together last week to lay out the garden and quickly realized it was bigger than we thought and gets less than ideal sun. Nonetheless, we are planning on carrots, lots of chili peppers, some dwarf tomatoes, and a few central trellises of beans and cucumbers. And we are counting on that garden-workhorse, zucchini, to do its part.
Laying out a garden always makes me think of urban deisgner, Kevin Lynch, who taught at MIT for 30 years and was the author of the still influential book, Image of the City. In it, he coined the word “wayfinding” to describe how people identify the paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks in their communities to navigate the places … Continue reading
…is paved with brick, “special” light poles, custom garbage cans, and light pole banners. You don’t need to be a keen-eyed tracker to read the signs–planners have been here.
But are special materials necessary to create a good design or great architecture? Frank Gehry made his name with chain link and corrugated steel. Without a designer’s hand these are the materials of a shantytown. The Case Study Houses are icons of modernism, but they were originally built with off-the-shelf materials, intended to be accessible to the average Joe and Josephine.
The request or requirement for special materials is well-intentioned, but not necessary. With artistry, asphalt and concrete become unique reflections of place.
Are special materials really … Continue reading