bark park at The Blairs apartments, Silver Spring MD

Pint sized bark parks: when an undefined patch of land is going to the dogs.

I’m not sure what it is, but something about the downtown to the unincorporated Washington DC suburb of Sliver Spring, Maryland seems have spawned a number of unusual urban forms: acute angles, bizarre protrusions, and neglected little corners.  I’ve written about this once before: how a building’s orientation and street frontage created a little storefront

Café Dolci on Market Street: will defensive downscaling (and social distancing) pave the way for more microretail?

In the approximately eighteen months since I walked along the underachieving arterial of Market Street in downtown San Francisco, its character has changed far more than anyone might expect. For such a prime thoroughfare in such a densely populated city, it’s surprisingly mediocre in terms of the density of foot-traffic, which, not surprisingly, leads to

German Street in Shepherdstown, WV: where, instead of a curb at the sidewalk, there’s a fence.  And shrubs.

The prosperous little municipality of Shepherdstown, fortuitously situated along the Potomac River in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, boasts a charming three-block main street, German Street, with nothing but locally owned establishments, achieving almost perfect occupancy amidst its variegated, well-maintained 19th century buildings.  It’s an enviable arrangement, no doubt enhanced by its location in

Directional decals: amplifying restrictions on everyday activities amidst pandemic panic.

Usually I like my articles to be “outside of time”—that is, I avoid subjects that are completely beholden to some current event.  But by March of this year, that all changed.  How couldn’t it?! It was virtually impossible to avoid the coronavirus, both artistically and epidemiologically.  (I still estimate there’s about a 50% chance that

Pandemic in the park: did restrictions around DC’s Tidal Basin help flatten the curve?

Given the patchwork of regulatory subcultures that our country’s federalist system inevitable creates, it should come as no surprise that this vast, diverse country is eliciting widely variable responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of the key metrics—confirmed cases, deaths, recoveries—and in the fuzzier, day-to-day manifestation of this most acute of public health

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

Right-turn spurs get the axe in Alexandria: is it safer at any speed?

The vehicularly inclined among us have probably noticed how, in recent years, various cities have adopted new stripes, bollards, stanchions, and sometimes modified curbs that make it highly inconvenient to make right turns.  Yes, this is deliberate. No, it’s not happening to give motorists a hard time, though it definitely doesn’t make things easier, which