Designing Public Places in D.C.

Redevelopment plans for Washington D.C. highlight the increased emphasis on public spaces.

"The architecture firm of Foster and Partners, the same team that designed the space-age yet lyrical new covering over the courtyard of the Old Patent Office Building, has proposed a mixed-use assembly of office buildings, retail, apartments and condos, with a long, narrow alley running through the middle of it. It will not be a dark, dank alley, used mainly by garbage and delivery trucks, but rather an attempt to produce a narrow, bustling, urban street, a center for retail that mimics the canyons of commerce one finds in New York City. The alley will lead to a public plaza with some kind of fountain."

"At a recent meeting of the National Capital Planning Commission, the oversight group that determines whether plans for building in and around the District are consistent with "the federal interest," there was grumbling about the alley. It didn't seem very Washington to some members, who noted that the capital city is distinguished by its wide and open streets, not narrow ones. Without quite damning the proposal, some members argued that it was an attempt to introduce a more vertical, urban feel to a decidedly horizontal city."

Full Story: Architecture and the Ability to Draw People In

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