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Fort Worth Water Gardens: when a splashy downtown feature rests on a slippery slope (literally).

Let’s face it: it doesn’t matter how big or vibrant your city’s downtown is.  Generally speaking, the civic plazas immediately outside the major municipal buildings are dead on weekends.  There just isn’t any magnetism, given that these buildings host city government functions, which typically operate during regular business hours, Monday through Friday.  (Emergency and corrections

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

Food trucks as an ethnic pastiche: are they the new emblem of the American dream?

For the last decade or so, it’s been not too difficult to spot a specific type of vehicle parked on the street or driveway in residential neighborhoods.  Here’s an example in a quiet lower-middle class part of Alexandria, Virginia: Yes, it’s the formerly ubiquitous (but hardly obsolete) food truck.  Before its explosion in popularity about

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

Maryland House: a posh new travel plaza is already running on empty.

By this point, we’ve all encountered the legions of business closures induced by COVID-prompted shutdowns of commerce and travel over the last year.  I’ve tried to avoid too much of the cynical coverage of vacancies, instead focusing on clever strategies that various storefront retailers have deployed to generate sales from a carryout vantage point, when

Building back a better bike rack: do the creative ones keep your two wheels safe?

Over the last three decades, as bicycles have become a more commonly accepted means of getting around—especially in areas where they previously were a rare sight—the need to accommodate them when “docked” is more important.  Sure, it’s usually perfectly reasonable to lock a bike to anything that’s already bolted to the ground: a parking meter,

Conowingo Dam: where clean energy is not just for the birds.

It’s rare that a major effort in environmental engineering, no matter how noble the intent or how solicitous the conception, yields absolutely no negative environmental consequences.  It’s probably more than rare.  I’d wager that such a feat has never occurred.  It’s all the more unsettling when one considers such vast civil undertakings as the canal

Front yards in the Federal City: even the close-knit rowhomes feature green plots for garden gnomes. Or (since it’s Capitol Hill) political signs.

In these polarizing and emotionally fraught times, it has ostensibly become far more common for people to announce their political loyalties from the front yards of their homes—not just by promoting the campaigns of preferred candidates, but (at least in recent years) to overtly declare one’s stance on a certain issue, or even to declare

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Conowingo Dam: where clean energy is not just for the birds.

It’s rare that a major effort in environmental engineering, no matter how noble the intent or how solicitous the conception, yields absolutely no negative environmental consequences.  It’s probably more than rare.  I’d wager

Recent Comments

Recent Comments