Tag Archives: district of columbia

Architecture Local

Designing for DC’s borders

All-singing, all-dancing design giant AECOM is sponsoring a student design contest for urban-scale interventions in cities with complicated relationships to their borders:

This year, we are seeking integrated design, planning, environmental restoration and engineering responses that address border, gateway and edge/fringe conditions in cities worldwide. Proposals should address urban sites currently facing chronic liveability challenges that are largely the result of a city’s location on a physical, political, cultural or economic border.

Now, I bet they’re are talking about urban centers near international borders, because those borders are much more absolute and lead to fascinating instances of disparity and extrastratecraft as business and humanity grind against governmental systems. Nonetheless, given the expectation of feasibility, I see an opportunity for proposals involving DC because its unusual legal condition is so intensified by its small size, unique economy, and structural formation.

Consider the consequences of legislative boundaries around DC: voting rights, income tax losses, diminished school funding, job opportunity, metro funding, etc. Or the geographic limitations of the Potomac, Anacostia, and Rock Creek Park: income distribution, commuting bottlenecks, racial division, and so on. Finally, what about the relationship of DC to the rest of the United States and the world? DC requires the usual things cities import, like food, but it also transfers enormous amounts of wealth, power, and human capital globally. Just because this infrastructure is not physical, does not mean that it does not have physical consequences, e.g. the security duck and  the extensive but inadequate infrastructure.

I suppose that the crises are less severe in DC, but I don’t think design will solve these problems. Instead, the curiousness of Greater Washington’s legal structure can be a much more subtle way of understanding the mechanics of government.

Other Russia

Marion Barry, Russian Punchline

This is just a small aside from the post about urban planning in Moscow. In the February 2011 Echo of Moscow interview with Sergei Sobyanin comes about halfway through it, when they take a break and offer Sobyanin a book as a token of appreciation.
In response, Sobyanin makes fun of an unspecified Washington mayor. I’d bet money they’re not talking about Adrian Fenty’s cycle club escort.
А.ВЕНЕДИКТОВ: Мэр Москвы Сергей Собянин. Прежде чем мы прервемся на 2 минуты и передадим слово нашим корреспондентам, мы хотим вам сделать подарок, Сергей Семенович. Это книга бывшего мэра Нью-Йорка Рудольфа Джулиани «Лидер», который принял Нью-Йорк городом мафиозным и тяжелым, ну а, как говорят те, кто там живут, когда он ушел, этот город стал пригоден для жилья всем. Так что, я думаю, вдруг она вам понравится.
С.СОБЯНИН: Спасибо, что не от мэра Вашингтона.
А.ВЕНЕДИКТОВ: Да-да. (смеется) От мэра Вашингтона ни в коем случае. 2 минуты перерыва, потом наши корреспонденты.
I’ve included the Russian from the transcript, lest anyone doubt this happened. It’s hard to capture the sarcasm, but the translation is clear:
VENEDIKTOV: We’re with the Mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin. Before we take a two minute break and let our correspondents have a word, we would like to give you a gift, Mr. Sobyanin. It’s the book, Leadership, by former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who turned New York City from a frightful mafia-infested wreck to the kind of a city, the residents who lived there when he left said, that was safe for all. So, I think you’ll take a liking to him.
SOBYANIN: Well, thanks for it not being from the Mayor of Washington.
VENEDIKTOV: Heavens, no. (Laughs) No way we’d give you something from the mayor of Washington.  Two minute break, then our correspondents’ questions.

 

Leadership was translated in 2004. I’m not sure why they’re handing it out now, but there it is, next to DC’s shame, circa 1990.