Sat, 25 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDTAccording to a survey of architects who design custom homes, the most popular special-function rooms clients desire in a house -- apart from bedrooms, baths, kitchens and living-dining rooms -- are home offices.
Sat, 11 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDTThe aesthetic character of a city depends on the design of open space -- streets and parks, squares and plazas, courtyards and gardens -- as much as the design of individual buildings. Often exterior spaces are no less memorable than grand civic edifices, venerable churches and elegant homes.
Sat, 28 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDTIf you are a middle-class family with school-age children interested in urban rather than suburban living, and if you prefer an apartment rather than a house, then your chances of finding a dwelling that meets your needs are practically zero.
Sat, 14 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDTMost Frederick County residents are unlikely to care much about how Prince William County meets its affordable-housing targets, improves its schools or alleviates its traffic congestion. Likewise, few residents of the District, Alexandria or Manassas worry about affordable housing, schools or tra...
Sat, 31 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDTLately Metro has taken a lot of heat because of persistent subway system deficiencies: lack of air conditioning in rail cars; escalator and elevator outages; and operator or equipment failures resulting in derailments and collisions -- along with injuries and fatalities.
Sat, 17 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT"It's not the heat, it's the humidity!" a complaint often heard in Houston, where I grew up, is wrong. In fact, it's the heat and the humidity.
Sat, 19 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDTThe recently rebuilt "Social Safeway" on Wisconsin Avenue NW, at the northern edge of Georgetown, is not just another remodeled supermarket. It represents a positive evolution in thinking about merchandising strategy and about being a good citizen through pedestrian-friendly architecture and urban...
Sat, 05 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDTFor 100 years, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts has ridden herd on Washington architecture, especially within the city's ceremonial core. In its role as design reviewer and adviser to the government, the CFA judges the aesthetic quality of every federal building; avenue, bridge, park, museum,...
Sat, 22 May 2010 00:00:00 EDTPlanning and financing infrastructure improvements is always a daunting challenge. Yet equally daunting is what to do with obsolete infrastructure. Is abandonment or demolition inevitable? Or can we feasibly preserve and transform it to serve new purposes and catalyze new activities?
Sat, 08 May 2010 00:00:00 EDTThe time has come to acknowledge that walking will be an indispensable component of 21st-century transportation. Today's plans for urban and suburban growth envision walkways as a vital part of multi-modal transportation networks. Walking is great exercise and beneficial to health. Unlike cars,...
Sat, 24 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDTSuppose you are a homeowner living in a subdivision in suburban Maryland or Virginia. Along an arterial road not far from you are acres of favorably located but underdeveloped or unwisely developed land with potentially high real estate value. Aging, low-rise commercial structures with little...
Sat, 10 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDTArchitect Frank Gehry's design concept for the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Memorial, while not embodying Gehry's signature language of complex curved surfaces, does achieve the bigness and boldness that are hallmarks of his work. But pursuing bigness and boldness can lead to bloat, which...
Sat, 27 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EDTIf you live in a detached house or townhouse, chances are it is not a stylistically modern or unconventional one designed by an architect. Instead, it is probably a relatively traditional home with relatively traditional furnishings.
Sat, 13 Mar 2010 00:00:00 ESTFairfax County aspires to greatly increase the amount of affordable housing at Tysons Corner for workers who now must commute there from afar, consuming time and fossil fuel while contributing to traffic congestion. But this newspaper reported recently that achieving Tysons's affordable housing...
Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:00:00 ESTMention historic preservation, and people visualize venerable buildings and neighborhoods within cities. Thanks to public attitude and policy shifts in recent decades, countless urban districts and edifices have been officially designated historic and, in many cases, saved from the wrecking ball.
Sat, 13 Feb 2010 00:00:00 ESTNature's assaults are never-ending, but humans and what they build also cause environmental disturbances, one of which is unwanted noise -- intrusive noise, ugly noise, discomfiting noise. We have the knowledge and techniques to cope with unwanted noise, but sometimes we don't or can't use them.
Sat, 30 Jan 2010 00:00:00 ESTThe sight of thousands of collapsed structures in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, may lead you to wonder whether a strong earthquake could cause equally widespread, catastrophic building collapse in an American city.
Sat, 16 Jan 2010 00:00:00 ESTOn Jan. 4, the new decade's first day of business, grand openings of two extraordinary real estate projects were widely reported: the $8.5 billion, 18.5 million square-foot City Center complex in Las Vegas; and the $1.5 billion Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world's tallest skyscraper, standing more...
Sat, 02 Jan 2010 00:00:00 ESTYou probably have read more than enough about the decade -- the "aughts" -- that just ended, about the best and worst, about what should be remembered or forgotten. I prefer speculating about the new decade, the tens -- or is it the teens? Where, what and how will we design and build?
Sat, 28 Nov 2009 00:00:00 ESTMany architecture firms have little interest in designing townhouse projects. Architects rarely pursue developers of these single-family attached homes as clients. Why should this be?
Sat, 14 Nov 2009 00:00:00 ESTArchitects love glass, sometimes with a passion. Its unique qualities -- transparency, reflectivity, the ability both to divide and unify space -- are alluring. Of course, both passion and glass benefit from tempering.
Sat, 31 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDTHalloween is when many children, willing to risk being scared, bravely venture into a makeshift haunted house at a neighborhood elementary school. All year round, grownups occasionally venture into another kind of potentially scary house: a shadowy parking garage.
Sat, 17 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDTChicago's 2016 Olympics bid was rejected, but the city hardly needs the Olympics. Chicago 2009 is already uniquely "Olympian" thanks to its soaring urban architecture and architectural legacy, its skyscraper-flanked downtown river, its Lake Michigan waterfront and its beautiful public parks.
Sat, 03 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT"Darn -- delayed by yet another stimulus-funded road construction project." This thought, which recurs while I'm driving, provokes another: "Will all these widely dispersed road construction projects add up to something that improves mobility in the decades to come?"
Sat, 19 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDTOther than raising taxes, few local government actions provoke as much political controversy as revising a long-range master plan, no matter how visionary the result. Yet visionary plans setting forth new land-use and transportation patterns are indispensable for managing growth.
Sat, 05 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDTWhat will metropolitan Washington look like 50 years from now?
Sat, 22 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDTAt the beginning of steamy August, The Washington Post's Steve Hendrix explored temperature sensitivity differences between women and men who duel over thermostat settings. His article noted that "women have a lower tolerance for cold than men." That may be the grounds over which most battles are...
Sat, 08 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDTThe District plans to build sidewalks along city streets without them whenever these streets are scheduled for repaving. This is prudent public policy. But heated controversy has arisen along several sidewalkless D.C. neighborhood streets where residents have taken -- pardon the expression -- opp...
Sat, 25 Jul 2009 00:00:00 EDTAt Tenleytown in Northwest D.C. stands a dense, mixed-use real estate complex embodying praiseworthy urban redevelopment policies and laudable architectural design. A model of healthy city evolution, it demonstrates how change can be successfully accommodated and how old and new can happily coexist.
Sat, 11 Jul 2009 00:00:00 EDTLast week's Washington Post report about the White House Office of Urban Affairs may lead some readers to wonder why this office has been created. Shouldn't West Wing denizens have been worried about cities before? After all, as The Post reported, cities are where most businesses and jobs are, wh...
Sat, 27 Jun 2009 00:00:00 EDTPast rulers in Europe, the Middle East and Asia have paid much attention to architecture, in addition to worrying about governing. This has sometimes occurred in the United States, thanks to men such as Thomas Jefferson.
Sat, 13 Jun 2009 00:00:00 EDTDeemed architecturally too "brutalist," the unloved Third Church of Christ, Scientist, seems headed for demolition, despite landmark designation by the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board. Could the FBI's equally unloved, brutalist J. Edgar Hoover Building someday meet the same fate?
Sat, 30 May 2009 00:00:00 EDTThe historically landmarked, stylistically "brutalist" Third Church of Christ Scientist at 16th and I streets NW, long disliked by its owner as well as by many Washingtonians, is fated to meet the wrecking ball.
Sat, 16 May 2009 00:00:00 EDTThe design competition for the National Museum of African American History and Culture ended with selection of a design submitted by one of six competing teams, and the winner probably surprised many. It wasn't the one favored by many architects -- including me -- or by others who have spoken to ...
Sat, 02 May 2009 00:00:00 EDTIt's fun to think about how innovative technology and creative design someday might radically change the look and performance of a fully sustainable single-family home.
Sat, 18 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDTSome residents of the District cling to a suburban mentality. This mentality, coupled with government mismanagement, can obstruct desirable redevelopment.
Sat, 04 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDTSuburban planning in Virginia soon will take a long overdue step toward rationality, thanks to the commonwealth's new Secondary Street Acceptance Requirements, which attempt to reduce reliance on cul-de-sacs in new suburbs.
Sat, 14 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDTDeciding how to best preserve historic places is never easy, especially when new architectural ideas are proposed. What fits? What does it mean to fit? And who decides what fits?
Sat, 28 Feb 2009 00:00:00 ESTAsking the private sector to plan and carry out the redevelopment of large, publicly owned tracts of land might seem like a good idea, but it can be the wrong idea. Sometimes cities themselves must do the work and shoulder the responsibility for planning new neighborhoods.
Sat, 14 Feb 2009 00:00:00 ESTOne of American architecture's highest awards just went to Glenn Murcutt, who designs suburban and rural homes only in Australia. Glenn Murcutt? Few Americans have heard of him or would recognize a Murcutt-designed house.
Sat, 31 Jan 2009 00:00:00 ESTThe share of President Obama's more than $800 billion economic stimulus package aimed at public transportation seems marginal, and that's a shortsighted approach to spending.
Sat, 17 Jan 2009 00:00:00 ESTColumbia has never looked or felt like a city, despite being the size of one. Is it time for that to change?
Sat, 03 Jan 2009 00:00:00 ESTLast month, I may have glimpsed the Washington region's future -- I spent five days in sprawling, traffic-choked Los Angeles.
Sat, 20 Dec 2008 00:00:00 ESTIf ever the nation needed to change public policy related to affordable housing production, it is now. Decent rental housing for workers with incomes in the bottom third of the economic pyramid has been in short supply for decades.
Sat, 06 Dec 2008 00:00:00 ESTWith attention focused on the opening of the immense, $621 million Capitol Visitor Center on the east side of the U.S. Capitol Building, let's not forget the National Mall to the west. Shouldn't we also be investing to enhance America's most nationally significant public space?
Sat, 22 Nov 2008 00:00:00 ESTTake a look at the exterior facades and interior walls of your house. There's a good chance that you will see elements -- roof gables, classically styled columns, crown moldings, perhaps an arched Palladian window -- whose prevalence in American architecture can be traced to Andrea Palladio, a Renaissance architect.
Sat, 08 Nov 2008 00:00:00 ESTDuring the political campaign, candidates repeatedly promised to tackle the challenge of enhancing America's infrastructure.
Sat, 25 Oct 2008 00:00:00 EDTThe land use and transportation policies of the 20th century are destined to change dramatically. They enabled sprawl -- the unbridled expansion of American cities that has engendered enormous unforeseen economic, social, environmental and aesthetic costs.
Sat, 11 Oct 2008 00:00:00 EDTThe exhibit on prefabricated housing at New York's Museum of Modern Art is visually delightful and informative. But the story it tells is incomplete.
Sat, 27 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EDTHow green can we get? Architects and their clients increasingly pursue "green" ratings as a measure of the environmental sustainability of their buildings.
Sat, 13 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EDTIn real estate, few laws provoke as much controversy and litigation as those concerned with historic preservation of architectural landmarks.
Sat, 30 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EDTAs Labor Day marks the end of summer and beginning of another school year, citizens presume that teachers are ready, but they may wonder if school buildings are, too.
Sat, 16 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EDTWhen buildings receive media attention, why do the architects who design them often go unmentioned?
Sat, 02 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EDTDo you ever think about how much we depend on highway signs? They tell us where we are; provide essential direction and destination options; and display critical rules about driving, stopping or parking.
Sat, 19 Jul 2008 00:00:00 EDTFast computers and sophisticated software give architects unprecedented ability to generate powerful designs.
Sat, 05 Jul 2008 00:00:00 EDTAffordable-housing problems are a perennial theme of conferences sponsored by state and local governments, professional organizations, and trade associations. Fairfax County, one of America's most affluent jurisdictions, recently came up with a smart variation on that theme for its latest housing...
Sat, 21 Jun 2008 00:00:00 EDTThe phenomenal metamorphosis of Arlington County's Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, among the region's most dramatic real estate transformations, teaches a timely lesson: Successful urban revitalization requires long-range planning and long-range public investment that sparks private investment.
Sat, 07 Jun 2008 00:00:00 EDTTysons Corner presents an extraordinary challenge and opportunity. No longer suburban, Tysons begs to be properly urbanized through visionary planning. Such planning could radically yet constructively transform one of the nation's most unattractive and dysfunctional environments.
Sat, 24 May 2008 00:00:00 EDTThe National Building Museum's exhibition about Eero Saarinen presents an inspiring account of the Finnish-American architect and his memorable portfolio of modern buildings and furniture.
Sat, 10 May 2008 00:00:00 EDTThe nation's capital is proud of its miles of wonderful waterfront parks. For locals and tourists, waterfront cafes can be just as wonderful.
Sat, 26 Apr 2008 00:00:00 EDTA crisis looms. America's infrastructure is in terrible shape, performs badly and is destined to fail more often. Neglect, lack of political will, bureaucratic myopia and woefully inadequate funding are the primary causes.
Sat, 12 Apr 2008 00:00:00 EDTLarge, lavishly furnished demonstration homes are built to whet the appetites of consumers, but such homes are beyond the financial reach of most families.
Sat, 29 Mar 2008 00:00:00 EDTIn 1968, deep-seated anger over the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. led to rioting, looting and arson in neighborhoods including Columbia Heights, the area flanking 14th Street north of downtown Washington.
Sat, 15 Mar 2008 00:00:00 EDTThe 21st-century makeover of 20th-century office buildings, well underway throughout downtown Washington, is gradually changing visible and not-so-visible aspects of the District's commercial heart.
Sat, 01 Mar 2008 00:00:00 ESTWhen the Newseum opens April 11, visitors will see an extraordinary work of architecture housing extraordinary exhibits.
Sat, 16 Feb 2008 00:00:00 ESTThere's a growing problem in this region that we don't hear enough about: the continuously shrinking supply of affordable housing.
Sat, 02 Feb 2008 00:00:00 ESTShaping cities is both a goal and a consequence of investing in transportation infrastructure. Sadly, the Federal Transit Administration seems unaware of this.
Sat, 19 Jan 2008 00:00:00 ESTYou can find plenty of telephone listings under "Auto Detailing." These firms specialize in making your car look new inside and out. Detailers rigorously clean, burnish, polish and make minor repairs.
Sat, 05 Jan 2008 00:00:00 ESTMost jurisdictions sidestep aesthetic considerations when reviewing construction-permit applications. Rarely must an owner or developer demonstrate that a project's design has merit. Ugliness is not grounds for denying a building permit.
Sat, 22 Dec 2007 00:00:00 ESTBecause they work at the front end of the development process, architects are bellwethers of the building industry, signaling changing trends in design, the real estate market and the economy. These days, they're giving mixed signals.
Sat, 08 Dec 2007 00:00:00 ESTSome in the real estate industry, seeing fewer parking lots downtown and fewer parcels of land elsewhere, worry that the District will soon run out of land on which to build.
Sat, 24 Nov 2007 00:00:00 ESTArchitects, like novelists and film directors, sometimes produce successes and sometimes not. In either case, creative hubris -- an excess of confidence or pride -- can be a contributing factor. Consider, for example, two noteworthy projects designed by the celebrated architect Frank Gehry.
Sat, 10 Nov 2007 00:00:00 ESTTwo modern but aging and problem-plagued works of architecture in downtown Washington -- the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and the Third Church of Christ Scientist -- pose a thorny question likely to arise much more frequently in the future: What should be the fate of such buildings?
Sat, 27 Oct 2007 00:00:00 EDTEven the drive to the Anacostia Community Museum becomes part of the sequence of viewing the exhibit "East of the River: Continuity and Change."
Sat, 13 Oct 2007 00:00:00 EDTGreenbelt was created 70 years ago in what used to be a remote exurb of Washington at a time when the federal government aspired to be a risk-taking real estate developer.
Sat, 29 Sep 2007 00:00:00 EDT"Location, location, location" may be the mantra of real estate, but equally important is "timing, timing, timing."
Sat, 15 Sep 2007 00:00:00 EDTWhat architectural design issues most concern you? Perhaps carbon emissions, universal accessibility or the challenge of preserving at-risk historic properties? Maybe you think less about buildings and architectural design, and more about the shape of your community and the broader public realm. ...
Sat, 01 Sep 2007 00:00:00 EDTLabor Day, says the dictionary, honors America's "working people." The term suggests clericals, labor union members and hourly wage earners who toil at manufacturing, constructing or operating useful things. But those who artfully design such things, making them both beautiful and practical, are ...
Sat, 18 Aug 2007 00:00:00 EDTMany urban Americans escape in August to a different kind of urban setting: a vacation town from another era.
Sat, 04 Aug 2007 00:00:00 EDTWill the deflating housing market motivate U.S. home buyers to deflate their housing aspirations, to get real not only about what they can afford but also about how much space they need?
Sat, 21 Jul 2007 00:00:00 EDTFor the first time in its history, the American Institute of Architects bestowed one of its top national awards, the Firm Award, to a female-owned partnership, Leers Weinzapfel Associates.
Sat, 07 Jul 2007 00:00:00 EDTThere is no better time to appreciate the extraordinary greenness of Washington than the week of the Fourth of July, when our thousands of acres of public parks are the site for countless picnics, cookouts and outdoor games.
Sat, 23 Jun 2007 00:00:00 EDTThat old saying "This is no way to run a railroad" popped into mind when I learned that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors cast a pragmatic vote this week, seemingly burying the option of tunneling Metrorail through Tysons Corner on its way to Dulles International Airport.
Sat, 09 Jun 2007 00:00:00 EDTThe D.C. Council voted this week to dissolve the Anacostia Waterfront Corp., but, fortunately, it decided to preserve one important legacy of that short-lived group -- its environmental design and development standards.
Sat, 26 May 2007 00:00:00 EDTWhenever anyone suggests revisiting the District's building height limits, the almost universal response is that heights permitted by zoning laws are both sufficient and sacred.
Sat, 12 May 2007 00:00:00 EDTIf all goes according to plan, ground will be broken soon for the new Civic Building and Veterans Plaza in the heart of Silver Spring.
Sat, 28 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDTDo you wonder where young adults can find an affordable place to live around here? How about someplace for a nanny or your aging grandmother?
Sat, 14 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDTIn 2005, only seven years after Whitehurst Freeway renovations were completed, the District began exploring the implications of someday tearing the freeway down -- or not. For many residents of Northwest Washington and commuters from Maryland and Virginia, eliminating this fragment of four-lane e...
Sat, 31 Mar 2007 00:00:00 EDTOccasionally a work of architecture is so compelling, so well crafted, so imaginatively conceived both aesthetically and functionally, that it makes me wish I had designed it.
Sat, 17 Mar 2007 00:00:00 EDTVisualize a home or workplace that serves you well whether you are 25, 55 or 85, a place that you would not have to give up or alter as you age. Visualize a place that is comfortable and functional no matter your physical limitations.
Sat, 03 Mar 2007 00:00:00 ESTDo aesthetic and functional attributes of your home make you happy? Do the exterior and interior architectural characteristics of your workplace induce feelings of contentment and optimism each day when you arrive?
Sat, 17 Feb 2007 00:00:00 ESTVirginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) has an opportunity that's rare for political leaders: He can change his mind and become a hero.
Sat, 03 Feb 2007 00:00:00 ESTAt the University of Maryland a few years ago, an architecture student undertook an unusual master's thesis project: the functional and aesthetic redesign of a strip shopping area in suburban Maryland.
Sat, 20 Jan 2007 00:00:00 ESTThe D.C. City Council, having recently adopted an amended Comprehensive Plan, intends to consider creating a D.C. planning commission. But does Washington need a second planning commission, since one such planning body -- the National Capital Planning Commission -- already exists?
Sat, 06 Jan 2007 00:00:00 ESTDebate about parking for the Washington Nationals' baseball stadium has focused on competing alternatives for locating and configuring parking structures.
Sat, 23 Dec 2006 00:00:00 ESTWith the year-end holidays upon us, it seems appropriate to make a wish list for 2007.
Sat, 09 Dec 2006 00:00:00 ESTWhich has more "messy vitality," Reston Town Center or Tysons Corner? And what kind of "messy vitality" do we want?
Sat, 25 Nov 2006 00:00:00 ESTThanksgiving weekend can bring to mind the word "smorgasbord," one of those wonderful nouns that somehow sound like what they represent.
Sat, 11 Nov 2006 00:00:00 EST"Make no little plans," proclaimed 19th-century Chicago architect Daniel H. Burnham, "they have no magic to stir men's blood."
Sat, 28 Oct 2006 00:00:00 EDTThis has been a big week for George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens, the official name of that extraordinary property overlooking the Potomac River.