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60 articles

Takeover ad space on construction barriers: bringing wolves back to the henhouse?

Take a look at the eyesore there in the center-left of the photo, there with the “FOR LEASE” sign draped across the third floor.  Such a humble, ugly little building…and what a contrast to everything else around it!  I first explored this derelict structure over five years ago, in the terminally transitional Columbia Heights neighborhood

Falls Church, Virginia: an independent city asserting its identity through…stop lights?

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

Lettering and logos: typographical goofs range from cryptic to charming.

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 skeletons of West Virginia’s film industry finally come out of the storefront.

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

Bars on the windows in comfy little Malvern, you say? Have we come this far?

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

Summit, New Jersey: does a promenade between two buildings represent an opportunity gap?

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