Temporary Projects Seek to Inspire Long-Term Change in DC

Lydia DePillis spotlights a host of temporary projects in D.C., from a shipping container fairgrounds to a three-month-long arts event, which have residents, leaders, and organizers seeing vacancy as an opportunity, and permanence as optional.

Although, as she notes, D.C. has come late to the wave of pop-up, temporary, and tactical urbanism projects being implemented across the country, DePillis explores how the city has now fully embraced such practices by pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into such projects "in old library kiosks, unleased commercial buildings, and empty lots around the city."

One such project is "a three-month-long arts event series called LUMEN8Anacostia, funded by a grant from a national nonprofit and put on by D.C.'s Office of Planning. The goal: Focus a ton of attention on a neighborhood usually thought of as too remote, too dangerous, and too empty to be worth a visit."

According to DePillis, among the advantages of temporary projects is their ability to change "the perception of a neighborhood...allowing it to try on a different identity.

'It engages people in a geography,' says D.C. Planning Director Harriet Tregoning. 'It leaves a burn image, even after it's gone. It opens up a whole different set of possibilities for the people who live there, the people who might want to live there.' Temporary projects often encounter less opposition, too. 'As long as you promise it's temporary, you can do almost anything you want,' Tregoning says. 'You get to say to people, if you don't like it, it's gone.'"

Full Story: Temporary is the New Permanent

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