5 Years

I started writing a blog because I’m not a great writer. Either I write quickly and incoherently or I write slowly and meticulously. Neither of which is good, and I use too many comma-and clauses. If I needed practice, I might as well have an audience.

I’m not sure I have anything novel to say about architecture, so this blog was also started with the idea that I would be translating a lot of Russian articles into English, reporting on Russian architecture. Unfortunately, I ended up in DC and the mission had to change. I found two issues to discuss: urban planning and Tenleytown. 

I’m particularly proud of the latter, which started out as research for a redesign of the Fort Drive area I was going to use to get into grad school. That never happened, but I feel like I the study drawings helped me understand some pretty important characteristics of cities.

So after 5 years and 18% of my life online, people have thought my thoughts were worth hearing 83,808 times. 2012 was my busiest year. June 2013 edges out a few other times as the busiest month, brought on by Terry McAuliffe’s use of my fantasy metro map in a political ad.

On a related note, that map is the single busiest post on the blog. Other sources of traffic, in order:

  1. A discussion of why the figure-ground “Nolli Map” doesn’t describe Tenleytown.
  2. Image searches for Richard Neutra’s Brown House in Forest Hills.
  3. The poorly thought through but radical McMillan Two project.
  4. The discovery of United States Bike Routes.
  5. Precedents for an Anacostia footbridge.
  6. The Soviet Pavilion built for the 1939 World’s Fair, which got linked by the New York Times.
  7. That time when I tried to make “Tobago” happen.
  8. Image searches for a horrendous graph made for Delaware’s ARRA application.
  9. My attempt to describe Forest Glen Seminary.

It’s interesting to me that these aren’t really my favorite posts and definitely not my best writing. That’s kind of what I was looking for when I started writing: an open journal that shows all of the mistakes made when trying to make sense of things.

Thanks for reading.

A few posts on Greater Greater Washington

The more I’ve written for Greater Greater Washington, the more I’ve realized that I need to write for a different audience here than I do there. At the least, I’d like to be more specific about architectural issues here and write about its intersections with DC and Upper Northwest on Greater Greater Washington.

So, I’ve decided to stop cross-posting articles from GGW other than ones that are themselves pretty specific to discussions of architecture, for example, the Architects on the Height Limit series. However, I will periodically link to the articles I’ve contributed to for readers who don’t read GGW. 

Stuff I wrote:

I also had comments in four group discussions:

Goodbye, DC (and Maryland & Virginia)

It’s with not a little sadness that I have to announce my departure from the DC area.

I grew up here, and after college and some misadventures, came back to discover a city I hardly knew, one that was interesting, diverse, and beautiful. Over the past two years, I’ve worked with passionate activists and written with some pretty brilliant people. Then there are the friends and coworkers with whom I’ve enjoyed Washington so much. It’s hard to leave.

But my return to DC was always temporary. My career requires still more education. So, in September, I will start classes at the Yale School of Architecture. It’s an unequaled opportunity that I just have to throw myself into. I’m going to go work a lot, sleep occasionally, and hopefully learn a little.

As a result, this blog will become a lower-level priority in my life. I probably will post less frequently. The content will focus more on design, as studios consume my mind.

That does not mean I will stop talking about DC. I will not let the Tenleytown NIMBYs off the hook. Greater Greater Washington will likely continue to tolerate my ramblings. To make it easier, I intend to start a series in the fall that will let me contribute with less pressure. In the same vein, I will continue to work on and post about my project for Fort Reno, even if it takes all of grad school to finish.

Right – but all of the academia that Yale entails put me in the mood to do something radically different with my remaining time. So, at the end of May, I will be moving to New Mexico to work at the Philmont Scout Ranch. Philmont is a high adventure camp on a working ranch between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. At 137,000 acres, it’s slightly larger than 3 Districts of Columbia. The ranch is also 6,090-12,441 feet closer to the sky and its pastures contain around 100 more bison than Washington’s.

The landscape is powerful. The experiences people have are profound. I think this promo reel captures enough of the natural majesty  – as well as the old-fashioned clothes I will be wearing:

Aerial Reel – “Philmont” – Ascent Imagery from Brent Murray, Ascent Imagery on Vimeo.

Philmont holds a cultic power over people who have been there, especially those who have worked out in the backcountry. The most prominent Philmont obsessive is Donald Rumsfeld, who worked there in 1949 and now owns a vacation house in nearby Taos. And there are plenty of others, the ranks of which I joined after a trek in 2002 and a position in 2005.

So, I’ll be away from my computer for a while, restoring historical cabins. One last breath before I move on to adulthood. I’ll see you all later.

Greater Greater Tenleytown is Tonight

Just a reminder that GGW and Ward 3 Vision are hosting a happy hour at Guapo’s in Tenleytown tonight from 6:30 to 9.  Come by, check out the many positive changes around the neighborhood, and have a drink or two. There will be surprise guests.

How to get to Guapo’s:

The easiest way to get to Guapo’s is to exit through the south entrance of the station and take a right until you’re back on Wisconsin. Walk north toward the Domino’s and the blue-striped building. Guapo’s has a large patio with a big neon sign. Go in and come upstairs!

Join us for Greater Greater Tenleytown

By M.V. Jantzen on flickr.

Greater Greater Washington will be hosting a happy hour in Tenleytown, co-sponsored by Ward 3 Vision later this month.

We will be Guapo’s at 4515 Wisconsin Ave, Tuesday, April 27th after 6:30 pm.  If you live in Tenleytown, I hope you can come by on the way from work, or take a moment to go home beforehand. The event is in the upstairs room, and we have margarita and beer specials.

If you don’t live in the area, you should come as well. Not only will you meet many of the GGW contributors, you can meet other residents who have been working hard to make Upper Northwest a more livable place for all ages. I know that it’s far from downtown, but the restaurant is just steps away from the Tenleytown-AU metro station.

Tenleytown has undergone a number of positive changes over the last year, so if you can come out early, you might actually take a look around the neighborhood.

If you like, there’s a Facebook event page, and, as always, feel free to invite your friends.


Уважаемые дамы и господа, I’ve made a few changes around the sides and back pages of this blog. The Good Posts page has had some things added, while the About page has gained some more text and lost its cat.

A number of links had lapsed and others needed to be added. For example, the Postmodern Conservative link has been dead since the decline of Culture11, and American Socialism for the Rich and Design New Haven got new URLs.

I’ve added GGW co-bloggers at Beatus EstJust Up the PikeBeyondDC, and City Block. Don’t know why I didn’t have them before, but all you need to know is that they write about the same things I do, just 4-5 miles from Tenleytown, and with a wide range of viewpoints. Also, you can check out Richard Layman’s RPUS.

On the architecture side of things, I’ve updated the list with a number of local architecture blogs, including Design Cult, The Straight Torquer, and hidden gem, Washington, DC Architecture: History and Theory. That last one approaches DC with serious academic depth in a surprisingly legible style that I really admire.

Outside of DC, I’ve added faslanyc and Free Association Design, both frequent readers of Mammoth. Also, you can click through to Polis, a blog that covers global urbanism. With one Polis contributor, Peter Sigrist, we will be beginning a small dialogue about Soviet architecture. Check out his series of posts on the parks of Moscow, which will give you a solid night’s worth of fascinating reading.

Now, if you read Russian, you can now find a little section I hope will be growing over the next few months. Already, there is Вашня и Лабаринт (Tower and Labyrinth), Metroblog, Теории и Практики (Theory and Practice), Москва, Которой Нет (The Moscow that Isn’t There), and Moscow Cycle Chic, now that temperatures are getting up into the 60s.

My friend Anna deserves mention for the log of her social life NOMOFOMO, including, but not limited to, such topics as ancient hams and women in sparkly gold catsuits. Then there’s DC Blogs, which notes various DMV-area blogs, including this one.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Peoples’ District, which is possibly the most interesting web presence in DC right now. All it is is an image and a monologue about a resident. And it’s great.

In Search of Lost Terms

I thought I’d join in on all the annual reflection this time of year by giving you some insight into where this website fits into the universe of architectural blogs. This past year, the top search topics for my site were:

  1. “DC metro map” in some form or another, at well over 300 hits;
  2. Neutra, which is surprising, considering I wrote one post about him;
  3. “Adjika,” also odd, in that I wrote one post about it;
  4. My own blog’s name,
  5. And Phil Freelon, also about whom I’ve only written once.

Nonetheless, I haven’t been getting too high on searches for Tenleytown – but this name theif is. What the hell? Sometimes, though, the results are a little more unusual: