'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.

June 9, 2006, 9:00 AM PDT

By Michael Dudley


"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."

Sunday, June 4, 2006 in The Washington Post

Walkable Urban Commercial District

The Complexities of the '15-Minute City'

What does a '15-minute city' truly mean–and how achievable is it in the U.S.?

July 29, 2021 - Governing

Toronto Freeway

Does Highway Removal Make Cities Healthier?

Highway removal can improve the air quality and health of the immediate environment, but displacement and gentrification threaten to exclude former residents from the benefits.

July 30, 2021 - NextCity

Pioneer Square, Seattle

Tree Equity Score: The U.S. Needs 522 Million More Urban Trees

As climate change intensifies the urban heat island effect, poorer neighborhoods bear the brunt of tree canopy inequity.

July 28, 2021 - The Urbanist

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.