Learning from Washington D.C.

BY BEN LOWE
January 5, 2010

Old map of Washington, DCThis past fall, a group of SPUR board members and staff traveled to Washington DC to learn from the urban-planning successes of our nation's capital; today, three members of that group presented their findings at a lunchtime forum.

SPUR Deputy Director Sarah Karlinsky began the discussion with an overview of the Washington urban planning models from Pierre L'Enfant's plan of 1791 to and James McMillan's Plan of 1901 through modern-day endeavors to enliven the long-neglected Southeast waterfront area along the Anacostia.  Regional Planning Director Egon Terplan expanded the geographical scope of the discussion, demonstrating with satellite photography areas in the region where forward-thinking transit-planning decisions brought about transit-oriented development along major corridors and high public transit use.  Terplan focused on the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in Virginia and Bethesda in Maryland, both tremendous successes in inducing dense development clustered around regional rail service.

Finally, architect and urban historian Rod Freebairn-Smith showed photographs gathered during the trip focused on how security threats affect both civic life and architecture. His photos included many examples of how buildings have been fortified through bollardization and other means, while not marring the storied city or preventing access to national monuments and icons.