Tag Archives: Kennicott on urban design

Open those windows

As gripes go, I admit it is a small one. But it’s sad to see windows appear in new buildings only to be covered over from the inside when a retailer with a basic corporate template for the floor plan moves in. You see this all over Washington, and in other cities too. I walk by these spaces and am always struck by the lost opportunity. You’re happy that there’s retail in the downtown, but then that same retail leaves whole blocks of dead windows facing the street. As an architect I interviewed for today’s Sunday column in the Post points out, there are solutions to this problem. But it takes a little pressure and guidance to get past the inertia.

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Filed under Architecture, Culture, Uncategorized, urban design

The Sunday Column

There are unexamined pieties to Washington urban design thinking that continue to hold the city back. Last Sunday, I used my Washington Post column to examine one of the most sacred of these: The fetish for the 1901 McMillan plan, which assumes the National Mall is sacred space and must remain inviolate for ever and ever. Today, I take on the arguments of some historic preservationists who want to hold the District to the letter of an 1889 law that forbids overhead streetcar wires. What’s so ugly about streetcar wires? Done right, they can become an important advertisement for the city’s progressive move toward better and more environmentally friendly mass transit. And by the way: If you believe Washington is a city filled with spectacular vistas down wide open streets, try standing in the middle of East Capitol Street and look to the Capitol. What do you see? Trees. Beautiful trees. That’s what we need to focus on preserving.


Filed under Culture, Preservation, urban design