'Out of Proportion' Security Measures Damaging Nation's Capital

Plans for a massive new Pentagon-sized Homeland Security complex threaten to ruin one of the finest vistas in Washington, D.C.

"Concerns for the physical safety of people and buildings continue to permeate Washington's architectural atmosphere. Actually, 'pollute' is the more fitting verb. [O]ur responses -- defined strictly in terms of physical measures designed to protect Washington's buildings and the people in them -- are vastly out of proportion...it is almost impossible to overstate the damage being done to the beauty and symbolism of the nation's capital. The open city becomes more fortified by the week.

...Yes, there have been design successes. The stone walls that oval the Washington Monument protect it from vehicle-delivered explosives, and yet lie lightly in the land. The stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House remains closed to traffic but, thanks largely to the NCPC, it is much more attractive and open than it was for almost a decade after President Bill Clinton shut it in 1995.

Those successes, though, are far outweighed by dramatic examples of fortification. The Capitol and its grounds are ringed by permanent bollards. The building's great west esplanade, with its nonpareil views of the Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue, remains closed to the public. South of the White House, E Street -- an important crosstown connector -- stays firmly closed to traffic."

Full Story: Security and the Narrow View

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.
$19.00
poster

A Short History of America

From comic book artist Robert Crumb, poster shows how the built environment has changed throughout the decades.
$14.95