After seventy years of steady and often astronomical growth—from 1940 to 2010—suburban Fairfax County Virginia finally slowed in the 2010s to a more modest pace. It had no choice. This county opposite the Potomac River from Washington DC is developed across about 75% of its 390-square-mile land area. Even more impressive is that isn’t even
Architectural forensics in Takoma Park: what was the original use of that cool little corner building?
A vlog that I enjoy has the name “Retail Archaeology”. I like the name just as much as the subject: predominantly an exploration of dead malls and nostalgia for the salad days of mall culture (mostly the 1970s and 80s). I’ve indulged in the subject more than a few times; it has resulted in some
Coming from a family that worked in the advertising industry, I cannot help myself by focusing occasionally on the use of lettering, symbols, or other carefully positioned typographic strategies to help galvanize an advertising logo into a widely successful brand. More importantly, I can’t help but focus on the non-successes—those examples where, even if the
The streetscape of downtown Martinsburg, the largest municipality (population 17,500) in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, doesn’t exactly boast an occupancy level one would rate as thriving. But it’s hardly plagued by persistent plywood in the windows of the commercial buildings, and the majority of them look like they benefit from regular maintenance and upkeep. I
In these economically fraught times, it’s not always easy to find an urbanized restaurant/retail district where one can comfortably kick back a burger and a brew and feel safe, either from crime, civil unrest, or inconsistent enforcement of COVID precautions (depending on what you perceive is the greatest threat). In 2021, the suburbs of large
So it’s not quite the great Evelyn Waugh novel—in fact, sociologically it’s about as far as can be—but it’s the closest I can come up with on this side of the pond that offers a proximal pun. It’s rare that I revisit an old post so shortly after the first time around, but I found
For much of the twentieth century, it was an all-too-common occurrence: an old commercial structure in a declining downtown struggles to compete with the strip malls cropping up everywhere on the outskirts. Over time, the old building—retail on the first floor, office or warehousing on the next two/three/four levels—becomes functionally obsolete. It’s drafty, the plumbing
Mixed-use town center as the new “organic” downtown: how distinct can they be if they become as commonplace as malls?
The mixed-use town center is a novelty across much of the county. A metropolitan area of one million people is unlikely to have more than one or two of these newfangled nodes, which typically combine housing, retail, offices, hotels, garage parking, and maybe even an institutional use like a school, a library, or a municipal
It’s rare that my work is “hot off the presses”—or, in this case, that it features a subject brand new to the world. But that is most certainly the case with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, unveiled on the 17th of September and, needless to say, still as fresh as a daisy. Over twenty years
I’ve spent multiple blog articles praising the colorful initiatives of Mural Arts Philadelphia in the past—including a very recent article—but it occurred to me that precious few of these articles have actually depicted the City-funded initiative in its full form. Up to this point, I have compared Philly’s influence on mural programs in other cities,