The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


Breakfast links: Zealous enforcers and budget maneuvers

Photo by cliff1066.
Yo building is so ugly, only terrorists want to photograph it: Security guards harassed Beatus Est's boss for photographing the monumentally ugly Forrestal Building, but not other, more attractive government offices. Those London cops also seem to have gotten suspicious when the tourists photographed the Modernist Vauxhall bus station. Could it be that security guards get more suspicious when people photograph ugly and/or modern buildings, since they less commonly attract tourists?

Maryland offers more money for PG buses: The State of Maryland has offered to pay half the cost to restore the Metrobus lines cut from Prince George's County, as long as the County pays the other half.

MoCo may allow parking revenue to fund transit: The Montgomery County Council is discussing a bill to allow parking district money to fund transit which helps people reach that area without parking. This is an important change and is a key part of Donald Shoup's recommendations for good parking policy. If they can fund other transportation modes, parking districts can meaningfully enhance mobility in a high-demand area; if they can't, then they just take choices away from the county and force more and more parking. If you live in Montgomery County, tell Councilmember Floreen you like the idea on her site.

Performance parking working in Philly: As a result of a recent parking meter fee increase in Philadelphia's Center City, occupancy at on-street meters has decreased from 97% to 77% and it's now easier to find a parking space. But contrary to performance parking principles, the city is considering raising meter prices even more. (Philadelphia Inquirer, Michael P)

Berliner proposes more Metro stops in Bethesda: Montgomery Councilmember Roger Berliner suggests adding a Metro stop between Grosvenor and White Flint. He said the station should cost $70 million, but WMATA says it might be more like $140 million. (Gazette)

Arlington picks stimulus projects: The County will spend its transportation stimulus money to put Columbia Pike's utility lines underground, purchase new buses, and "upgrade the county government's transportation system management plant." (Arlington Sun Gazette, Gavin Baker)

Clarendon zoning adjusted: The Arlington County Board adjusted zoning rules to allow some more density in exchange for greater review around Clarendon Metro. The Board hopes the changes will encourage the desired walkable development in the area. Some neighbors oppose the changes. (Arlington Sun Gazette, Gavin Baker)

Park Service cracks down on pedicabs: The U.S. Park Police have been intimidating pedicab operators around the Mall. One Park Police officer said Tourmobile was pushing for the crackdown. (We Love DC, Jaime, Tom A.)

An even greater Thomas Circle vision: BeyondDC expands upon Chris Loos' Thomas Circle sketch, adding verdant trees in addition to benches and a nice usable public plaza.

Twice a day?: Thanks to all of you sending in lots of tips, the links have gotten longer. Today, I even held many good links back. Would you like to see more frequent but shorter links posts, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon, at least some of the days?

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
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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Yes, would like to see more frequent links posts, but I don't think it needs to be more than 3 a day...that would be too much.

by Froggie on Apr 30, 2009 8:58 am • linkreport

Would love to see a list of what you consider "beautiful" architecture in DC. Just out of curiosity.

by curious on Apr 30, 2009 8:59 am • linkreport

Cheers for Berliner. I hope that Fairfax county might do the same and suggest a metro stop at Westover Village at Patrick Henry drive. Its about half way between Ballston and East Falls church though admittedly closer to East Falls church. The neighborhood is already walkable and has a good mixed use village feel. A metro would only make it better.

The Thomas Circle rendering looks great! Looks as nice as Dupont Circle, I just wonder with the uses around it would it get used as much? I'm failing to remember if there are many nighttime establishments there or housing.

by Boots on Apr 30, 2009 9:02 am • linkreport

Well it's definitely not, as Boots claims, that they're ashamed of the building, because these guards are pretty shameless otherwise.

I've been haggled for photographing the back of the Jefferson Memorial, as well as sitting there for too long and sketching it. I'm waiting for the TSA to ban 2H pencils for being "hard and spiky."

by цarьchitect on Apr 30, 2009 9:05 am • linkreport

Also, I think the Forrestal Building is beautiful as an object, although its beauty comes at the price of pedestrian safety and the same social deadening that any federal megabuilding will cause.

by цarьchitect on Apr 30, 2009 9:10 am • linkreport

If you are starting to get an increased volume of links, then regardless of how many times/day, it would be best for the user experience to group them topically. The "link" posts are the only ones I regularly skip over when going through my feed reader because I don't know what the content is.

by Ward 1 Guy on Apr 30, 2009 9:17 am • linkreport

I can try to cluster them around "themes". However, they're not going to be able to keep to a single topic. Would it make sense to have a mostly-DC edition and a mostly-MD/VA edition? A mostly buildings edition and a mostly transportation edition?

by David Alpert on Apr 30, 2009 9:21 am • linkreport

Ugly? The Vauxhall Bus Station? Seriously? We must have vastly different tastes.

by Matt! on Apr 30, 2009 9:23 am • linkreport

I'm for more posts rather than less.

I wouldn't separate by geography. I'd do other themes to the extent you can separate them logically on a given day.

by ah on Apr 30, 2009 9:36 am • linkreport

I'm for 2 sets of links, if the volume warrants.

I'm the opposite of Ward 1 Guy: the link posts are the ones I always read. (The long and specialized posts are, well, sometimes too long and specialized for my attention.) I think it's a great way to collect recent news from various local sources.

I'd support clearer or more standard labeling for the links, maybe with sub-heads. For instance, in a given post you could group items from DC, VA, MD, federal, and interesting tidbits from outside our area.

by Gavin Baker on Apr 30, 2009 10:00 am • linkreport

Re: Arlington stimulus projects: To clarify, I think it's more would than will. From the article:
The proposal must be approved by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, Commonwealth Transportation Board and the state secretary of transportation.

by Gavin Baker on Apr 30, 2009 10:05 am • linkreport

I don't mind the Vauxhall Bus Station either, though I don't love it.

by David Alpert on Apr 30, 2009 10:06 am • linkreport

Sorry- but no "architect" is ever going to convince me that the Forrestal building is "beautiful". It is , as David states, "monumentally ugly" and brutalist to the max. So is the Department of Labor, FBI, and HHS, among others.They project an impenetrable and institutional physchic barrier/aura and are not friendly to the eye, nor to the city around them. There are not too many people who would disagree with this opinion- except "architects" , many of whom seem to come off as totally blind to what the great majority of people like.

by w on Apr 30, 2009 10:37 am • linkreport

I like the concept of theme-based links...

by Froggie on Apr 30, 2009 10:41 am • linkreport

Point of clarification regarding the Arlington stimulus projects: Those three projects are only part of what will be funded via the stimulus. We're only talking about one specific pot of money out of many pots available.

The same NVTA action will approve stimulus funds for all the NoVa jurisdictions at the same time, but only from that one pot of money (which again, is a fraction of the total available).

by BeyondDC on Apr 30, 2009 10:43 am • linkreport

@цarьchitect/w : "beautiful as an object" is a curious locution, I think the Forrestal building might be cool as a banquet table or something, but the problem is it's a building, out where everyone has to look at it.

by Steve on Apr 30, 2009 10:56 am • linkreport

@David Alpert: Any of those suggestions would be good. Obviously, I don't want to make work for you, but I much more interested in DC than MD/VA, so the geographic distinction would really help me filter. Others may feel differently.

@Steve: Great comment! I think the FBI building would be excellent as a robot that did my laundry (or a toaster), but not so great as a building occupying a huge space along Pennsylvania Avenue.

by Ward 1 Guy on Apr 30, 2009 11:20 am • linkreport

David, I second Ward 1 Guy's sentiment on DC vs. MD/VA. Perhaps alternate sites for MD and VA hosted by you, but led by your main contributors there would work. Frankly, I prefer the DC/neighborhood perspective to the buildings/transporation perspective. But that's just my preference. I think it matters more what you see yourself being the expert on and most interested in. Of course, an alternative is just to grow them all collaborating with other bloggers to have multiple sites ... be another Craigslist ... or Google ... ;)

by Lance on Apr 30, 2009 11:28 am • linkreport

More links, please. As many as you can throw at us. It's a great way of summarizing and informing us of stories happening all around the area that most of us would otherwise never see. Think regionally, not parochially.

by SG on Apr 30, 2009 11:29 am • linkreport

I like the Thomas Circle idea ... except for one thing. The trees at the edge of the park should be bushes (or something else low-lying). I not only say that for aesthetic reasons (i.e., I think motorists would enjoy seeing into the park ... and park users enjoy looking out), but I think it's some sort of traffic rule that you can't have a series of trees blocking the view ... especially on a non-straight section of road.

I do have a question though on the feasability of the renovations. Does anyone know if this is a federal park (i.e., NPS) or a District park. If it is the former, then alternatives get complicated from what I understand.

by Lance on Apr 30, 2009 11:31 am • linkreport

@Lance: As one of the "main contributors" to this site, I'll just say that I'm at the edge of the amount of time I can devote to this site. I research and provide articles as I can, but I can't really lead a Virginia-devoted version of GGW at this time. I really appreciate David allowing me to write and contribute to the site. I think it works better as a "Greater Washington" site rather than a constellation of regional sites.

by Michael Perkins on Apr 30, 2009 11:37 am • linkreport

Agree with Michael. I've always seen this site as the Greater Washingtion region, and not just D.C. proper.

by Froggie on Apr 30, 2009 11:42 am • linkreport

Lance - I agree that bushes and flowers along the edge would be good. Same thing immediately behind the benches.

However, rendering that would take a lot longer than magic wanding some trees, and I'm lazy. Perhaps the original artist (Chris Loos) could do more.

by BeyondDC on Apr 30, 2009 11:45 am • linkreport

@ Lance: As for trees in Thomas Circle, more and larger trees would be better for several reasons. Drivers would go slower if they couldn't see through the circle which is better for everyone, especially pedestrians trying to actually use the circle (and cars would be going around, not coming out of the trees anyway).

There's little to see on Thomas Circle apart from National City Christian Church and the Lutheran church, the rest of the buildings are inconsequential.

The high traffic on the circle is one if its annoying features, isolating the park area from the road would make it more comfortable to use.

by Steve on Apr 30, 2009 11:47 am • linkreport

Michael, yeah I can imagine the work involved. Your pieces are always well researched and extensive. But I guess I wasn't thinking "free" contributors (at least not longterm) ... but rather a "for profit" model where David would set the standards, provide the links to each area (perhaps making it customizable by interest by the user) and essentially grow GGW even more than he already has in such a short period. Obviously neither he (nor he and current contributors) can continue to grow GGW at the rate it's been growing without some business model being implemented along the way. Craigslist started off as a simple typed list ... look where/what it is now! (And with only 24 employees ...)

by Lance on Apr 30, 2009 11:56 am • linkreport

Tsar Architect

I agree that the building could be put to another use as an object.To my view- most of what bothers me is that so many of these modernist structures look unfinished and have that buggaboo of the cheap modernist "style" - the ever present flat roof.

Also- they need to consider stripping the old barbaric facades off and rebuilding the facades using quality and more attractive treatments.

Forrestal would be a lot nicer if they put a traditional tile roof on top of it and filled it in underneath with businesses or residential. Every time I bike by that thing I think of how much space is totally wasted by it's pompous , bad design.

by w on Apr 30, 2009 12:09 pm • linkreport

w, I know! Good modernists and classicist seem to unite over their hatred of Frank Lloyd Wright and Fay Jones, but they seem to enjoy such popularity among the hoi polloi! The same is true of all that googie and art deco architecture and gehry stuff, these architects have no taste, or at least the part of their eyeballs that recognizes beauty is damaged.

by цarьchitect on Apr 30, 2009 12:17 pm • linkreport

Thom. Cir.: Trees! No one will use the park for 5 months of the year unless there's shade. Trees don't need to be the "weeping" variety obscuring views. It's easy to see around trunks no matter how big. See Sherman Circle (Kansas@Crittenden NW)for an example of a beautiful assortment of trees that don't block views across AND provide a lot of much needed shade ~May 15~Oct 15. Grant Cir too. (NHA@Varnum NW).

by Bianchi on Apr 30, 2009 12:24 pm • linkreport

Thom. Cir: Also, why add concrete/pavement around the Statue? Keep it grass, cool and permeable. Replace it with an indigenous short ground cover that doesn't require mowing and is drought hardy.

by Bianchi on Apr 30, 2009 12:38 pm • linkreport

w, in regards to your thoughtful second comment, you're taste is going to differ from mine, as well everyone on this blog. Consequently, I never try to convince anyone of aesthetics: it's usually a waste of time.

But I agree that it would be great to put something under or around it too. But your style objections make it worthwhile simply rebuilding the whole damn building.

Oddly, the Modernists were looking to eliminate the concept of style, so they might agree with you scare quotes, but that's another pointless, endless fight.

by цarьchitect on Apr 30, 2009 1:00 pm • linkreport

Note that in the Clarendon periphery zoning, they've gutted any residual use for TDRs. Now, if there's an historic resource there that everyone really wants saved, a profit-maximizing owner has no real alternative but to demolish it to build something denser. This is because the new regulations don't allow any density or height above the cap, even if it's just transferred in from an adjacent parcel which is kept low-density.

BTW, David, so the subsection-specific commenting trial is over?

by Joey on Apr 30, 2009 1:00 pm • linkreport

Yes, I'd be in favor of twice a day links / round ups.

by Eric H. on Apr 30, 2009 1:17 pm • linkreport

Re: Red Line Fill-In Station

Where would Berliner's station go? Underneath White Flint Mall? IMO that's too close to the existing White Flint station. Anywhere below that is just single-family residential or low-rise condos. If anywhere needs an in-fill, it's Bethesda where it's 2 miles to Friendship Heights and 1.5 miles to Medical Center. Maybe at 355 and Bradley? or 355 and Cordell to spur development where it's mostly low-rise commercial. Bethesda is almost much more able to support a dense, walkable, urban land-use pattern required for closely placed stations (think Rosslyn-Ballston).

by Reza on Apr 30, 2009 2:23 pm • linkreport

The Thomas Circle sketch looks awful--a big exposed center section and rather dense foliage at the periphery seems very uninviting. Benches near the road will be noisy and unpleasant and the center will be too bright & hot in the summer and desolate in winter. As for making cars slow down--doubtful, wishful thinking. A light, consistent canopy like Logan Circle makes more sense, with seating away from the periphery. The statue is a focal point, most people don't look at and there's no reason to showcase it if you want a place people will use everyday.

by Rich on Apr 30, 2009 10:11 pm • linkreport

yeah i agree, the forrestal building is hideous. i wonder if they could have designed a longer or more repetitive building.

by jon on May 1, 2009 1:44 am • linkreport

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