Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Hunker down


Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video on Flickr.
Sandy shuts down transportation: You shouldn't need to wait for the Breakfast Links to know there's a massive storm hitting Washington. Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess are all closed today, as are MARC, VRE, and Amtrak, local and intercity bus services, Amtrak, Capital Bikeshare and more. (DCist, City Paper)

Farragut Crossing a hit: About 600 people use the Farragut Crossing virtual tunnel every day, almost double the number of when it first opened. Despite its success, Metro has no immediate plans for any more virtual tunnels. (Examiner)

CaBi gets ads: DC's Capital Bikeshare stations will soon get advertising. Arlington can't put advertising on its stations unless it modifies a ban on outdoor ads. (Examiner)

No love for Hoover: Preservationists will likely not fight to save the Hoover FBI building. The building would cost too much to reuse, the movement suffered from the contentious Third Church fight, and almost no one likes it. (Post)

Bus garage at AFRH?: Another possible location for a new Metro bus garage has popped up: the Armed Forces Retirement Home near North Capitol and Irving. It could replace the aging Northern garage on 14th Street. (Post)

And...: Georgetown's West Heating Plant building might not be worth much unless the preservation process allows adding windows. (Post) ... Is it possible to build a green downtown parking garage, or is it just greenwashing? (Grid Chicago)

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Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  

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Good to see that the Committee of 100 is apparently already thinking of trying to preserve the Hoover building, despite the wishes of the other 650,000 people who live here.

by Circle Thomas on Oct 29, 2012 9:53 am • linkreport

I bet the Farragut crossing could be a bigger success if local businesses promote it. Grab your meal/coffee/food to go and pay no additional metro charges. I sometime stop by Paul's and grab some stuff in the morning or evening and I don't have to pay metro anything extra... This could also help bring more activity to the area during the evening. Maybe I am too optimistic?

by WM on Oct 29, 2012 9:57 am • linkreport

I can't remember the last time I didn't use the Farragut Crossing. It just works so well. Even when the weather isn't great, I enjoy the ability to go, grab me a coffee or a snack, stop off at the bank, and hop back on Metro. And the 30 minutes is perfect. The walk takes about 5 minutes, which leaves plenty of time to do whatever needs to be done. It's very useful, and I think more people will use it as they find out about it.

by Justin..... on Oct 29, 2012 10:20 am • linkreport

Correct link to Washington Post Story:
Metro considers Armed Forces Home land for new bus garage

by Sand Box John on Oct 29, 2012 10:37 am • linkreport

I'm excited about what I read in that article on CaBi ads. Sounds like the system could be a significant money maker for the District. Which could help fund more expansions, which would bring in more revenue, etc. Love it!

by H Street LL on Oct 29, 2012 10:52 am • linkreport

Now I'm glad that I have an SUV and don't have to rely on public transportation. :D

by Arlington on Oct 29, 2012 11:23 am • linkreport

So unfortunately the O'Connell article puts Metro smack in the middle of an internecine squabble between DC councilmembers where none of the potential substance of a relocation to the Old Soldiers Home actually comes through and Metro's possible responses are limited to the temporizing "we can't admit it, we can't deny it, we're always considering new locations" response that leaves Metro vulnerable to being hammered for not being communicative or substantive, when in fact everyone in authority is conspiring to make it difficult for Metro to be either.

The only "unauthorized" people likely to have discussed the facility with O'Connell would be Board members or maybe former staff. No staff at Metro would want to proactively raise this subject because they know the DC politics of this are treacherous. If it was Metro staff that had discussed this with O'Connell, they would have provided information on the substantive benefits of a new facility and of the Soldiers Home location in particular, not just mentioned that they were "considering" it.

PLUS, only an elected official would put all the responsibility for whatever blowback occurs entirely on Metro by announcing that "Metro" was considering something.

Substance:

A)Is it operationally feasible to operate buses out of OSH?
B) What are the benefits of a new facility, quantitatively, relative to the existing dilapidated garages?
C) Could you include the Western garage buses in a new OSH facility?
If so, questions A and B above, plus
D) How much could Metro sell its land in Friendship Heights for, and could it finance a new facility from those proceeds?
E) What would the fiscal benefits to DC be of redeveloping the garage site in FH?
F) Impacts on communities around OSH versus impacts in other places?
G) What does OSH want? Does OSH want to sell all of its land or only what is needed for transit facilities?
H) Can contemplated transit facilities satisfy EIS conditions for transfer of federal land to a non-federal owner?
etc.

Altogether, does it make operating, fiscal, community development, etc. sense for a relocation, or relocations, to occur? Personally, I believe it does, but admittedly I'm jumping the gun on the questions above. But I'd bet it makes sense.

At a minimum, the Mayor should ask Metro -- or maybe another Councilmember should ask Bowser to ask Metro -- to rigorously address the questions above, and the results should be made public so that the Mayor could hopefully have a case to step up with something strategic, visionary, and reasoned and make this not a "Metro" project but a joint DC-Metro project to achieve joint, really important and strategic DC and Metro needs (funded, modern bus facilities for a City with growing bus needs, and increased tax base, population, fiscal strength). Right now it's all just petty, substanceless ward v. ward jousting, and Metro's being put in the middle of it without being giving the authority by DC to do anything.

by jnb on Oct 29, 2012 11:24 am • linkreport

Other than "local business interests" why should the Farragut virtual tunnel allow for 30 minutes to transfer? For that matter, why should bus transfers allow 2 hours? I'm certainly happy to "take advantage", but I feel like I'm doing so in the bad sense of that phrase.

by ah on Oct 29, 2012 12:04 pm • linkreport

A few months ago, DDOT issued proposed regulations that would greatly restrict the size and location of outdoor commercial ads, to the point that the double-decker tour buses would be prohibited from having any ads on them.

Yet, at the same time, DDOT is seeking to give itself a monopoly on commercial ads on public space via the monopoly deal with Clear Channel for bus shelter ads and now this new monopoly for Bike Share stations.

So, DDOT is essentially arguing that all outdoor commercial ads should be prohibited, except for any ads that it wants to put up via its monopoly advertising partners.

For BikeShare stations located in Historic Districts or adjacent to Federal properties, would the Historic Preservation Office or the Commission of Fine Arts require review and approval? Or is DDOT just going to ignore those requirements as well?

by Lurker on Oct 29, 2012 12:14 pm • linkreport

I wonder why the below ground trains aren't running today? Also, insert obligatory DC overreaction to weather comment here. But I suppose if you like the current administration, it is crucial that they overreact rather than underreact right now.

by aaa on Oct 29, 2012 12:24 pm • linkreport

@aaa: The weird thing was that I checked wmata.com about half an hour before they announced the closure, and they had an announcement posted that seemed to taunt anyone who was shutting down today. It basically said that if sustained (which was even italicized for emphasis!) winds got over 50 MPH, they'd consider stopping aboveground trains, but until then, they'd be running business as usual.

Then they completely changed their minds, I guess. Though I don't have a huge problem with it. Should we be encouraging people to be out at all today?

by Gray on Oct 29, 2012 1:26 pm • linkreport

This is a large region, aaa. The strength and path of the storm are not easy to predict. While you may not have been impacted by it yet, others have. Some portions of Fairfax County are flooding while others have barely experienced a hard rain. Throughout the region there is flooding that will only get worse as afternoon the continues. A lot goes into the infrastructure you may take for granted. There are crews of people working together on a regular basis to keep trains, buses and other operations going. Their safety is important too. The region is bracing for widespread power outages.

BTW, D.C. Taxicab Commission authorized $15 emergency fee.

by selxic on Oct 29, 2012 1:29 pm • linkreport

WMATA said their electricity providers could not guarantee a sustained power supply, and thus did not want to have a train lose power in a tunnel and be forced to do a rescue and divert first responders.

Plus, people should not be out anyway. This is not the same condition as a nor'easter.

by Alex B. on Oct 29, 2012 1:42 pm • linkreport

@aaa: I thought the same thing, but then realized that someone has to operate the system if I'm riding it. While I can make a voluntary decision to go out in this storm, I'd be pretty pissed if my boss told me I'd have to come in given what they're saying on the news about the storm's potential.

by 7r3y3r on Oct 29, 2012 2:55 pm • linkreport

@Lurker: to what size did DDOT limit outdoor ads? Because a double decker bus is greatly larger than bus shelters and the map spaces on CaBi stations so your statement that "DDOT is essentially arguing that all outdoor commercial ads should be prohibited, except for any ads that it wants to put up via its monopoly advertising partners" (emphasis added) seems a bit exaggerated as it stands.

by 7r3y3r on Oct 29, 2012 2:59 pm • linkreport

The article about the Hoover building has an odd perspective. It makes it sound like the DC area once had a great many brutalist buildings which have greatly diminished in number.In reality, there aren't that many and certainly few of any note. The Hoover building probably is no more notable as an example of Brutalism than the chunky suburban mall stores that JC Penney built in the early 70s. The Christian Scientist Church on 16th is a different matter--it's a good example of what the genre set out to do with highly abstracted forms. The problem with "beauty" as a criterion is that styles can go for decades without being appreciated in that basis---Victorian buildings were viewed as tacky, "old fashioned" and overdone for most of the 20th century. Midecentury buildings went out of fashion pretty quickly.

FBI probably would be happy to find a away to discreetly retire the Hoover name--before the revelations about his closeted homosexuality, he was known for his racism and use of the FBI's pr mcahine to take credit for cases where local law enforcement and other federal agencies like ATF had done the real investigative work.

by Rich on Oct 29, 2012 2:59 pm • linkreport

"Beauty" as a criterion for preservation might have problems, but as a criterion for brutalism, it didn't exist. Brutalism, like most modernist styles, didn't value "beauty", at least as a sensual phenomena. Like ornamentation, it was seen as a bourgeios persuit, decadent, superfluous, and at best secondary to a conceptual or technological goal.

The Christian Scientist church might have been "beautiful" in its formal abstraction, but the FBI building is too large to be read as an ornamental sculpture for the street. It's drama lies in the "honest" expression of it's structure, much like a victorian warehouse. Problem is, it's concrete, and the street presence isn't quite as sympathetic as an old warehouse district.

While it's true that tastes come and go, I would take exception with the characterization that victorian architecture was viewed as "tacky, old-fashioned, and overdone for most of the 20th century". Architects where certainly taught to reject ornamentation and beauty from the recently converted architectural schools, but the public continued the all too human persuit of ornamentation through mainstream suburban tract homes to the bohemian enclaves being carved out of our increasingly neglected victorian cities. Americans reacted pretty strongly to mid-century modernism as much as Architects and Madison Avenue would have you believe otherwise.

Today we have defacto eclecticism, if one looks at the totality of what get's built and not just the glossy architectural periodicals. And while every style has beautiful and not so beautiful examples, the styles that actualy value beauty continue to be more popular, what ever the prevailing fashion or political climate. Unfortunatley for a lot of brutalism, beauty will always be the main criterion for the public, and because of that, many examples will disapear unless modernist architects educate the public the same way they where taught to appreciate these buildings, with their minds and not their eyes.

by Thayer-D on Oct 29, 2012 5:06 pm • linkreport

I'll just have to express my usual sorrow for the FBI civil servants who will have to go work in some suburban hellhole just so GGW posters can achieve their dream of evicting all federal offices from the District so all the property will be on the tax rolls and only lawyers and lobbyists can enjoy the benefits of working downtown.

by pg on Oct 29, 2012 5:28 pm • linkreport

Agree with Rich. FBI was never championed as an example of any school of architecture; it was built as a fortress to resist possible mobs and riots.

by Tom Coumaris on Oct 29, 2012 5:38 pm • linkreport

Gray -- I saw the "taunt," which is why I found the service cancellation disappointing too. I'm not an expert but I've seen buses rolling through more severe weather than this. One taxi wanted to start the meter at $18 for a short trip across NW this afternoon. My feet and my bike have worked fine today, though, so will be relying on them.

by aaa on Oct 29, 2012 5:52 pm • linkreport

@pg:

The suburban future of the FBI is one they want. They need more space than a superblock can give them just for offices, and they want a 100 acre complex so they can have buffer space to protect them from car bombs and electronic surveillance.

Today's security environment makes agencies like the FBI unsuited to being downtown. I doubt many people here really have a problem with, say, the FCC being downtown. But the Hoover building destroys the urban environment in Penn Quarter, and its replacement would only be worse.

by JW on Oct 29, 2012 5:58 pm • linkreport

Unless you were Walter Gropius, beauty was definitely a criterion for modernist architecture. Beauty that could not be tied to the conceptual, structural, or technological underpinnings, that was verboten. And even then, not across the board. When looking for evidence, Thayer's claim falls like spalling concrete from a brutalist building.

by Neil Flanagan on Oct 29, 2012 6:46 pm • linkreport

The term "Brutalism" does not come from the brutal look of the style. I comes from the French term "beton brut", which means raw (unfinished) concrete.

by interguru on Oct 29, 2012 7:00 pm • linkreport

That may be overstating it. The term appealed to the practitioners for its shock value, making its adoption certain.

by Crickey7 on Oct 29, 2012 7:16 pm • linkreport

Of course the "suburban hellhole" locations being considered will be near transit, highways and a great amount of future development, pg.

by selxic on Oct 29, 2012 7:37 pm • linkreport

Neil,
I'm not sure where the difference lies. I said that modernism "didn't value beauty, at least as a sensual phenomena" and that beauty was "at best secondary to a conceptual or technological goal."
You said, "Beauty that could not be tied to the conceptual, structural,or technological underpinnings,that was verboten.
Now, I'm not Walter Gropious, but it sounds like we are saying the same thing.

Beauty as purely a visual delight would be "forbidden" if it didn't eminate from a conceptual or technological underpinning. Besides surprising many non-architects that what they considered beautiful was not allowed, why exactly would that be? Becasue some Germans who took their worship of the machine said so almost 100 years ago?

That's the schism that hampers archtiecture to this day. That the public and the archtiects who are supposed to build for them see beauty completely differently. While many architects. both modernist and traditional have abandoned the "verbotten" nonsence, my guess is we'd have a lot more public engagement in archtiecture if archtiects would abandon the fantasy that beauty for the sake of beauty is a second class endevor. Architectural history is littered with examples of beauty that is both sensual and conceptual or technological. But when you demand the public understand a conceptual or technological beauty that's not visually discernable, then you diminish the credibility of your profession. Imagine a musician who expects you to understand their music conceptually rather than aurally? Yo no entiendo.

by Thayer-D on Oct 30, 2012 8:28 am • linkreport

@ pg:FBI civil servants who will have to go work in some suburban hellhole

You mean the urban hellhole where most FBI civil servants choose to live? Or do you somehow assume one can afford to live downtown on an FBI salary?

by Jasper on Oct 30, 2012 9:33 am • linkreport

The FBI dosen't have to be in a suburban hell hole, it could be in Fort Totten for example or it could be used as the catalyst for turning a suburban metro stop in say PG into an urban oasis.

by Thayer-D on Oct 30, 2012 12:43 pm • linkreport

Why doesn't the FBI relocate to a military base? Bolling, Navy Yard, Ft. McNair? They already have the security infrastructure in place and many FBI personnel have the security clearance for access to those facilities.

by 7r3y3r on Oct 30, 2012 12:53 pm • linkreport

Thayer,

Sure, it could be an oasis. But judging by the security at the current site, as well as at newer federal facilities in urban locations like the ATF, I think that is unlikely even if the FBI were to stay in the city.

Likewise, the GSA has stated they need a whopping 55 acres to host a new FBI site in the suburbs. With a site requirement like that, they are clearly not looking for a compact, walk able, urban development: they want their own version of Langley.

by Alex B. on Oct 30, 2012 1:15 pm • linkreport

Alex,
I was wondering that myself, yet I can never make a full proof rationale for why the FBI needs to be surrounded by a moat while many other symbolically important government facilities seem vunrable to all sorts of attacks.

I guess it's off to the suburbs they go. It would be nice to see them in P.G. They seem like the neglected step child compared to Fairfax, Montgomery, and Arlington when it comes to government centers. At least there won't be a lack of suburban office parks to choose from.

Back to brutalism, I wish they'd bring it back, but instead of having an engineer size the structure, have an artist design the building. A nice example of exposed concrete structure as wall is the recently renovated NPR building. .

by Thayer-D on Oct 30, 2012 2:34 pm • linkreport

For what it's worth, there have been posts about the FBI facility here on GGW in the past.

by selxic on Oct 30, 2012 8:16 pm • linkreport

A few decades back, the National Archives tried to get their 2nd building built across the street from the main building at 700 Penn NW. But Maryland congressmen put the screws on and got it built next to the University of Maryland. Fortunately in its place was put the Navy Memorial, a great memorial and public space for workers there.

With the FBI going away (so it appears), I cannot think a better place to build an Archives III, since space is fast vanishing at Archives II (maybe even an underground tunnel to connect the two). I would imagine the design would probably be more in keeping to the area as it is now. And it would form a great service for the public making more government records stuck in storage available to the public. Just a thought.

by Ray B on Oct 31, 2012 4:52 am • linkreport

@Lurker

Yet, at the same time, DDOT is seeking to give itself a monopoly on commercial ads on public space via the monopoly deal with Clear Channel for bus shelter ads and now this new monopoly for Bike Share stations.

No. The city owns the right to advertise within the public space. No one is creating a monopoly, the city (or more accurately, the people) already have a monopoly. The city sold that right to Clear Channel for a whole list of goodies including SmartBike, bus shelters and cash. So it was sold to benefit the people, and this was OK, because it belonged to the people to sell, through the people they elected to represent their interests.

For BikeShare stations located in Historic Districts or adjacent to Federal properties, would the Historic Preservation Office or the Commission of Fine Arts require review and approval?

No.

Or is DDOT just going to ignore those requirements as well?

Those aren't requirements.

by David C on Nov 1, 2012 4:12 pm • linkreport

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