Lake Dallas Main Street: a bedroom community doesn’t neglect its entrance hall.

I’ll concede at this point that small town revitalization has become sufficiently commonplace that finding a new example is hardly revelatory, even for those who aren’t really attuned to that sort of thing…because they never visit small towns, or because they just don’t care.  It’s even less of a surprise if the municipality in question

What will Washington DC do with all its triangular parcels?

In a quiet, mostly residential neighborhood in northern Washington DC, less than a half-mile from the Maryland border, a modest bit of new construction yields a subtle surprise.It doesn’t look like much, and, in most respects, it isn’t. Just a big new house, presumably multifamily (I’m guessing between two and four units), though maybe it’s

The punchy glow of neon, accentuating what isn’t there.

An evening stroll along the busy main drag in the Washington DC neighborhood of Mount Pleasant reveals the luminescence of a vertically oriented neon sign advertising a business, with four simple letters: “ELLE”. While hardly the stuff of Vegas, it’s distinctive on its own terms, because it belongs to a style infrequently seen on today’s

Fort Ross: challenging the orthodoxy on the California coast.

Regardless of the time of year, any coastal sunset should supersede something as stubbornly human-wrought as a church steeple. After all, the ephemerality of that palette reduces the comparable permanence of an opulent beachfront home—or even a charming fishing village—to banality.Yet here, along the north-central coast of California, in rural Sonoma County, far removed from

Logos in limbo: why Pizza Hut, which is everywhere, can’t find its niche.

If we view advertising while wearing our semiotic skullcaps, we’re bound to come up with widely different conclusions than when we espy a brand, passing along in a car, simply for its promotional message. But that’s the point. When it comes to ads, who cares about the explicit—what the ad is actually saying? It’s the

Southport Crossing: old apartment complex + new decade = change in the name.

Axiom number one: as housing ages, the owners/occupants need to maintain it for it to remain a desirable habitation. It makes perfect sense. Yet empirical evidence abounds where this does not happen. In many cases, neither the owners nor the occupants have the financial resources to invest in the property to the degree necessary. Or,

When physical malls confront a virtual reality, the brand’s the thing.

Amidst all the talk of mall death—at least some of it from yours truly—it’s becoming easier to spot the retail sector’s outright desperation. When was the last time you visited a chain retailer and were not asked about becoming a member of the rewards program? And how long did it take you to find a

Luring us back to the center, by whatever means necessary.

After crossing the Thames River along Interstate 95, speeding westward past the compact, archetypically New England central business district to New London, Connecticut, a visitor will encounter an exit ramp leading directly to the city’s economically recovering downtown. Generally speaking, this should be the preferred trajectory for those of us obsessed with old town centers.

The punchy glow of neon, accentuating what isn’t there.

An evening stroll along the busy main drag in the Washington DC neighborhood of Mount Pleasant reveals the luminescence of a vertically oriented neon sign advertising a business, with four simple letters: “ELLE”.

Luring us back to the center, by whatever means necessary.

After crossing the Thames River along Interstate 95, speeding westward past the compact, archetypically New England central business district to New London, Connecticut, a visitor will encounter an exit ramp leading directly to