Category Archives: Uncategorized

Local Other Uncategorized

Watch NPR and OK Go follow downtown’s edge

When NPR moved its headquarters in April, the music division had little fun with the trip. They called up the band OK Go to make an episode of the Tiny Desk Concert series. The results are pretty cute:

But, being a writer for GGW, I couldn’t help but notice all of the recent construction and development! You get a great look at the variety of the city as they move from Mt. Vernon Square to North Capitol Street.

NPR’s real estate history matches Washington’s economic changes over the past 40 years. When it was founded in 1971, its offices were at 16th & I Streets, next to the brutalist First Church, which was the core of DC’s declining downtown. It’s first purpose-built offices were on M Street in the West End, which lasted until NPR moved to the then-dilapidated Mt. Vernon Square in 1994. Now that downtown real estate prices spread north and east, they’ve relocated to a building in NoMa, designed by DC-based firm Hickock Cole.

Also, the drunk history of DC is hilarious. They desperately need one for Col. L’Enfant’s sad, sad story.

 

Reno Park Studies Uncategorized

Reno Park Update 091212B: Finding Place

So in the last post, I pointed out that it was easiest to demonstrate that some location is a place by showing the density of people there. That’s what this map is. It’s an imprecise but useful tool to map and note the actual behaviors of pedestrians in the T-T area. I’ve made a point of making it blurry and gradated. There are not borders, so much as dips in circulation and public activity that result from the popularity of one area and the amount of effort pedestrians are willing to exert to get from one place to another.

Take, for example, Friendship Heights. Most people arrive by Metro or driving to the retail district. But within only two or blocks of that hub of activity, the circulation patterns change: there are fewer people and they are generally more local. The walkable distance matters more. It’s clear that the locality ends, even if it is slight and gradual.

The character of the architecture changes slightly as one travels south on Wisconsin. It’s shorter, somewhat dinkier. But at Fessenden Street, the entire block is suddenly small, two-story local retail. It looks like little to the north, but also seems slightly different from Tenleytown, up a steep hill to the south. Someone who lived a block to the south would feel like it might be part of Tenleytown, and someone who lives a block to the north might feel it’s Friendship Heights. This is hard to define; just like foot traffic, it comes in gradients. However, due to its higher pedestrian traffic, small public park, and consistent look, I would argue it is effectively a between-place. So let me show you what I’ve come up with:

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Local Reno Park Studies Uncategorized

Reno Park Update 091212A: Finding Activity

Okay, so I mentioned in the last post that neighborhoods, as conventionally defined, are not necessarily the best ways of measuring human activity, and so is the difficult concept of community. However I attempt to define such a thing, it’s going to be imprecise, subjective, and doubtful. But most people can recognize  community when they see it. Likewise, when you look a good space, you can tell because of the people there.

Last year, when I was but beginning my job as an apparatchik of the цarьchitect, I quoted Freddy N. in On The Geneology of Morals:

Only owing to the seduction of language (and the fundamental errors of reason petrified within it) which conceives all effects as conditioned by something that causes effects, by a “subject,” can it appear otherwise. For just as the popular mind separates the lighting from its flash and takes the latter for an action, for the operation of a subject called lightning, so popular morality also separates strength from expressions of strength, as if there were an neutral substratum behind the strong man, which was free to express strength or not to do so. But there is no such substratum, there is no being behind doing, effecting, becoming; “the doer” is merely the fiction added to the deed – the deed is everything.

Now, replace “strength” with “community.” Community is, in essence, an act. It is not merely your sheer propinquity to another human meatbag, nor crude ethnic similarities, it is the action to do like others, to help the person nearby, to talk to them, to smile at the man on the street when he says hello. Community, is an cooperative action between people, in the conscious and subconscious, of coming together and working for each other’s values. Why one might associate with one another, and care for them is a wholly different question. But it is relatively easy to see evidence of community, just as it is possible to see evidence of social activity.

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Reno Park Studies Uncategorized

Reno Park Update 091005B: Zoning

So what is the relationship between zoning and buildings? (Again colors are off!)

zoning-building-forms

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Uncategorized

Still having problems

I don’t know what is going on, but it looks like some of the code is a little screwy, although I can’t tell how that happened, or where it is inside wordpress.

Uncategorized

Architect in a Photograph: Robert Stern

Perhaps becoming a series of  utterly unique identifiers of the particular ideologies of certain architects, as I see them. 

img_4987

Seen at 15 Central Park West. If you don’t understand, then please catch up on the past 40 years of architecture. I can wait.

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“Anything except titanium skewers”

Watch Mr. Samuel T. West, local legend and gentleman scoundrel, skewer the concept of a PR videoblog by talking about nothing for 7 minutes.

 

You might also want to check out his film productions at Cocaine in Motion, particularly their Sand Moon movie (not really funny). They also have some amazing parables on Youtube. They feature the Methodist Cemetery and Fort Reno in a number of flicks.

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Babe’s is becoming something already.

Demolition has already started around the site of the late Babe’s Billiards, a classic Tenley dive once slated for a 42-unit condominium and now expected to become a retail site. The Northwest Current is reporting that the project will contain two levels of street-fronting retail, with up to two levels of office space above that. The plan is a downscale of the previous plan, however it will add more retail, which will undoubtedly make the corner lively again. 

Babe's/Maxim site
Although still in funereal black, laborers have already moved in and started redecorating.

As has been noted before, the site at 4600 Wisconsin, its zoning exception, and even the architectural documents were auctioned this week to the Douglas Development outfit. Sold for $5 million, the price was $2.3 million less than Clemens paid for it in 2005. Douglas have a good reputation for redevelopment, executing projects at the Woodward & Lothrop Building, the Car Barn,  the Avalon Theater, The Peoples Building, and the building that houses the International Spy Museum.

A few interesting facts emerge from the article in the Current article. First, the requirement to build underground parking apparently was a major contributor to the construction costs that made development unfeasible once the real estate market contracted. Second, the difference in size between the buildings Douglas Development currently own and their plans for the site might indicate that they intend to use the building as a placeholder until a better market for development emerges. Third, much conflict was made over the prior project, at the modest height of five stories. Five stories is within the commissar’s approved height and would have been quite appropriate for an area near a Metro station. Hopefully if my wild speculation in point two comes true, there will be less opposition to future plans that can only benefit the neighborhood. Strong advocacy for transit-oriented development and explanation of why it is important not only for the environment, but also for community is absolutely necessary to make appropriate development possible.

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Tobago, DC

I grew up east of Ft. Reno Park, in what I thought was called North Cleveland Park. I always felt that the neighborhood was a little dull and lacking community, like it really wasn’t a neighborhood. This sense was borne out when my parent’s realtor confessed that he had no idea what it was called. Now, Wikipedia claims there is a difference between North Cleveland Park, south of Albermarle St. and Wakefield to the north of it. Wakefield? Damnit, no! I’m calling it Tobago.

Map around Ft. Reno Park
You know, because there's already a Trinidad somewhere else in the city... Via DC GIS.

I am not joking at all; I want this to happen. There is no reason why we should stick with a real estate name that nobody knows. A funny name is precisely what DC needs.

Uncategorized

Spam

So unfortunately the attention brought here by the linkage to the metro plan caused a flood of spam, all in the form of trackbacks. I don’t know how they get through, since I turned trackbacks off, but it is not good, and I had 500 spam messages this week before I restricted settings. I know! “Curse God and die already.”

I’m just writing this to explain the comment policy now. I’ve installed reCAPTCHA because books are awesome and also changed moderation, so that people who haven’t commented before have to get approved. If you have commented before and you use the same email, there should be no delay.