The Daily Feed

Ridiculously Awesome LEGO Exhibit at the Building Museum

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Bill Ward’s Brickpile’

If you’re like me and never really grew out of your childhood LEGO hobby, here’s something you’ll definitely want to check out.  USA Today brings word that the National Building Museum is opening up what sounds to be a really cool exhibit: a collection of fifteen large-scale replicas of famous buildings made entirely out of LEGOs.  The exhibit, called Towering Ambition, showcases the work of architect-turned-LEGO artist Adam Reed Tucker (one of only 11 LEGO Certified Professionals in the world!).

In true National Building Museum tradition, the exhibit will include a great interactive section that will allow visitors to build their own LEGO buildings and place them on a city map.  Towering Ambition opens Saturday and will be on display until September 2011, so you’ll have plenty of time to head over and release your inner child over the next year.

The Daily Feed

Make Plans to See ‘Make No Little Plans’

Photo courtesy of
‘Screen on the Green Anticipation’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

Screen on the Green doesn’t start back up until July 12, but in the meantime you can catch a great movie this Wednesday on the Mall.  The National Capital Planning Commission is sponsoring a screening of  “Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City” on the Mall on Wednesday at 8:30.   This documentary about the father of urban planning is sure to draw out history buffs, planners, and anyone else who loved ‘Devil in the White City‘.  And it’s the perfect place to watch a documentary about the man who helped design the National Mall as we know it.  So grab a blanket and pack a picnic and I’ll see you out there Wednesday night!

The Features

Maps for People Who Love DC

DC Ork Poster

DC Ork Poster

As an urban planner, I really love living in a planned city, and I love maps of DC too– so much that I recently looked around and realized that the majority of wall-hangings in my home are DC maps. So for those of you looking for a holiday gift for someone who loves DC, let me suggest a couple decorative maps that are currently hanging in my home that could make great gifts for the DC-lover in your life:

DC Ork Poster
This was an early Christmas present this year, and already it is one of my favorite DC things. It shows the District’s neighborhoods by their names, creating a very cool effect. While this is extremely useful for determining which neighborhoods I haven’t yet covered in my Where We Live series, it’s also just really cool looking.

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The Daily Feed

Fighting Global Warming Through Urban Planning

YouTube Preview Image

If you have a couple minutes to spare, take a look at the clip above.  Created for the Congress for New Urbanism, it’s a catchy short film linking suburban sprawl to global warming.  It frames global warming as a result of the built environment, and encourages new urbanism (i.e. walkable development with a mix of uses that is close to transit and preserves more of the natural environment) as a way to create communities that are sustainable and built to last.

The video is quite well-done, and it got me thinking: the Washington region has a strong concentration of good examples of new urbanism (the examples of good development in the film look very familiar).  Aside from the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor that has become the national example of good transit-oriented mixed-use development, we’ve got great places like Bethesda and Crystal City and Silver Spring that are continuing to attract new development.  Recently, the region has seen high-quality walkable development in Shirlington and Rockville Town Square, among others.  Our region definitely has more than its share of high-quality walkable, mixed-use development than any other metropolitan area I can think of (of course, the region also has a lot of crappy suburban sprawl, too).  What do you think– is this type of development the answer to combating global warming?

The Daily Feed, The District

Retrofitting Strip Malls on the Kojo Nnamdi Show

Photo courtesy of
‘Tivoli Square Streetscape’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

For every active, vibrant public space in DC, there’s another lifeless, auto-oriented public space right down the street.   Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown is an urban designer’s dream, while a few miles north on Wisconsin Avenue there are parking lots and gas stations lining the streets.  New York Avenue north of Chinatown is a developing hub, while New York Avenue on the eastern edge of the city is a car-oriented paradise of fast food and motels.  The reason is simple: the closer-in areas developed when walking or streetcars were the primary mode of transportation (so everything is close to the street, compact, and walkable), while the outer areas developed in the car era (with plenty of room for parking and a focus on convenience).  Now we know that, for the most part, strip malls don’t provide the public space and active streets that we urban planners love. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

You Won’t Get Sympathy About Your Long Commute Here

Photo courtesy of
’12th Street Corridor’
courtesy of ‘maxedaperture’

We all love to complain about our commutes here in DC, but what if traffic congestion isn’t such a bad thing? The Smart Growth Speaker Series continues on Tuesday the 14th with a lunchtime presentation at the National Building Museum on how transportation projects can be successful even if they don’t tackle congestion.  Ellen Greenberg, former Research Director for the Congress for New Urbanism, will discuss various ways to measure success in transportation that don’t necessarily make cars move faster.  It’s often difficult to get support for transportation projects if they can’t promise fewer traffic delays, but a lot of things that make good urban places (like narrow streets and pedestrian crosswalks and bike lanes) don’t really improve congestion.  The event is free and open to the public.