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Public Spaces

Landscape architects teach us about DC public spaces

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has created a great new website about the many public spaces in and around Washington, DC.

Individual landscape architects took photos and wrote descriptions of each site's key features. You can learn about public spaces you might not have even known about, or see familiar places through a landscape architect's eyes.

How many of these sites can you identify? Click on any of them to jump to the page.

There are some real gems of public spaces in here, some very old and some very new. Most descriptions remain positive even about those sites, like Freedom Plaza, which don't really activate the street at all and sit barren most of the time. The descriptions do allude to some controversies, like the location of the World War II memorial, or the way the Mall suffers from insufficient maintenance and heavy use.

The spaces in the guide range from the monumental core to Brookland, Deanwood, and the Pentagon area in Arlington. The guide concludes with one element that's slightly out of the box, but still definitely an example of public space design: DC's bicycle network.

Jennifer Toole, founder of Toole Design, the firm that has designed many bicycle facilities and traffic calming treatments for DC streets, writes a short tour on Capital Bikeshare covering 14th Street, the 15th Street cycle track, the Pennsylvania Avenue lanes, Union Station's Bikestation, and the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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The link on the top right image is blank.

by Peter K on Sep 14, 2012 10:19 am • linkreport

Fixed, thanks.

by David Alpert on Sep 14, 2012 10:35 am • linkreport

I hope they expand this guide to other parts of the region - I remember ASLA or another group had a conference here a couple of years ago and had a guide to public spaces and neighborhoods in Silver Spring, Bethesda, etc.

by dan reed! on Sep 14, 2012 10:54 am • linkreport

There is a big schism in New Urbanism about "landscape urbanism." Building architects like Andres Duany criticize landscape architects. But I happen to think that generally, landscape architects deal with urban design issues much better than architects and landscape architecture firms are better on this than architecture firms without planning arms.

the guide dan mentions is linked to in this blog entry,, as City Guide. I'd have put the direct link link but it's a self loading pdf.

I agree that it's an excellent resource.

by Richard Layman on Sep 14, 2012 1:20 pm • linkreport

i think one of the nicest is that dog meadow in Glover Archibold.

by charlie on Sep 14, 2012 1:27 pm • linkreport

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