[sbs_tax tax="States"] [sbs_tax tax="Albany"]

Colorful commemorations: what do painted bikes mean to the unschooled?

Nearly four months had passed—a long time for me—since my last visit to Pentagon City in Arlington County, Virginia, home to a big, well-situated, and (as malls go) prosperous mall, a booming multifamily housing sector, numerous key big-box retailers, and a variety of office complexes—all within walking distance of the none-too-pedestrian-friendly Pentagon. The area is

Steering with stanchions: keeping the corners safe in the Christmas City.

For those of us who care about this sort of thing (the precious few), it’s become increasingly obvious that bollards have become a significant element of the average streetscape. We owe some of this, no doubt, to the unfortunate reality of an escalating collective fear of terrorist attacks in the form of vehicle ramming, either

Ligon Mill Road: the visual blight of bad streetlight height.

Carefully thought-out infrastructure—the type we actually notice because it’s so smartly conceived—is a rarity. But why? Sure, we might hold certain examples in high esteem; the Hoover Dam or Brooklyn Bridge are among the first that come to mind. But hundreds of millions of tons of civic infrastructure get dedicated, upgraded, or repaired every year,

Well-regulated suburban development: hardly off the rails.

A railing on a sidewalk may seem like a humble installation, in the context of the vast strip mall that surrounds it. And it is. But it does seem odd, almost random, based on the environment. Why does this twelve-foot stretch of sidewalk need two railings when nothing around it has them? A view from

The restaurant scene of Columbia Heights: in here, it’s always Tuesday.

This post serves more as a prelude to a forthcoming, lengthier rumination on retail conditions in Columbia Heights, a Washington DC neighborhood I have explored multiple times in the past.It is among the oldest “suburbs” platted outside of the original l’Enfant plan for the capital region. I apply quotes to the word “suburb” because, though it

Green street in Seattle: over the long term, will it put the City in the red?

By this point, the term “green building” has more or less entered common parlance: even if a sizable majority of people don’t know exactly what it entails, they can form a reasonably well-educated guess from the adjective. And, extending those contextual cues, they can speculate with similar accuracy on “green design”, since it loosely applies

Downtown Houston: paved with good intentions.

One of the most unnerving characteristics of the built environment is when an alternative taste culture becomes so entrenched and so mundane that we forget that it wasn’t always the status quo. And it’s even worse when this anti-establishment product yields an inferior outcome whatever it was that preceded it. I’m speaking so vaguely that

Old Town Mall MONTAGE: life after people, a mile from Baltimore’s downtown.

Just a few weeks after a moribund mall montage, I’m back, despite the fact that these photo-heavy articles take forever and a day to create. But I can’t resist: like the Midtown Mall in Worcester, this retrograde retail ruin gets little coverage. It’s not a conventional suburban mall—it’s an urban setting, and, also like Midtown,

The Deadwood dilemma: if they designed all their roads like this one, we would be dead.

Here’s a vote of no confidence in pedestrian infrastructure if I’ve ever seen one.Not sure what I’m talking about? It’s undeniably a dark photo, but some context should help clarify things. We’re looking at the old mining town of Deadwood, South Dakota, a place that, in most respects, should venerate the pedestrian. After all, the

Full skyscrapers, looming over empty streets.

Those of us who identify as urbanophilic—to which I include myself a great deal of the time—have long bemoaned the lack of density afflicting many of our American urban centers, which impedes these places from achieving not just the level of on-the-street liveliness heralded by Jane Jacobs—the first great autodidact urbanophile—but their basic capacity to

Downtown Houston: paved with good intentions.

One of the most unnerving characteristics of the built environment is when an alternative taste culture becomes so entrenched and so mundane that we forget that it wasn’t always the status quo. And

Full skyscrapers, looming over empty streets.

Those of us who identify as urbanophilic—to which I include myself a great deal of the time—have long bemoaned the lack of density afflicting many of our American urban centers, which impedes these