Sunday, April 12, 2009

*goodlinks: the growing focus

the S. Capitol Street Bridge from Poplar Point

Consolidation for Homeland Security, Headaches for Preservationists, via New York Times
most in River East are excited about the upcoming move-in of 14,000 employees to our hood, but others still fear the campus' character will be lost

Alexander calls on all residents to protect the environment, by Greater Greater Washington
councilwoman Yvette Alexander (Ward 7) went on NPR's Kojo Nnamdi show to denounce the claims that the Anacostia bag bill is harmful to low-income residents: "No matter what your income does not excuse you from being environmentally conscious and responsible."

Anacostia Streetcar Plan Runs Into Delays, via Washington Post
in an annoying but not-surprising twist, the Anacostia streetcar is now delayed until 2012. since we're delaying it, howabout running it up MLK to St. E's, then down Malcolm X to the maintenance facility?

DC Unwanted, via the Examiner
so I guess stadiums aren't the pay-anything-to-get-one economic revitalizers everyone used to clamor for. PG County has joined DC (remember Poplar Point?) in dropping plans for a new stadium-based development for MLS's most successful soccer franchise


Anonymous said...

"Character" of St. E? Is it even used anymore? Only idiots would say that a vacant building complex could have "character"

Urban Architect said...

Whether a building is occupied is irrelevant when it comes to preservation. Preservation has become one of the most effective tools in the fight to save the country’s irreplaceable architectural, cultural and natural heritage. What you may not realize is how important our past is to our future.

In downtown ("Center City") Philadelphia's last surviving major motion picture palace opened Christmas Day in 1928 and operated until 2002. This masterpiece of Art Deco design now sits vacant, has no preservation easement in place, lacks designation as an historic landmark and is threatened with demolition.

The Great Falls Portage, one of the best preserved and most accessible landscapes along the Lewis and Clark Trail, is a windblown, undeveloped rural area surrounded by mountains and a panorama of blue Montana skies. It marks the location where, in 1805, the historic expedition faced its most challenging obstacle —the 18-mile, 31-day portage around the Great Falls of the Missouri River. Today, the construction of a massive coal-fired power plant—the seventh in the state—in the site's front yard threatens to irreparably damage the cultural and visual landscape of this National Historic Landmark.

Hangar One is one of the largest remaining purpose-built hangars. This cavernous, dome-shaped structure, built in 1932 to house U.S. Navy dirigibles, measures 200 feet tall and covers more than 8 acres of land. Even today, it dominates the landscape, towering over an impressive array of 1930s-era Spanish Colonial Revival military buildings, which are now part of NASA's Ames Research Center. It is notable for its colossal Streamline Modern form, and is regarded as a significant catalyst in Silicon Valley's widespread contributions to aviation and space advancement as well as technology research and development. During World War II, it served as a docking station for the USS Macon, the largest aircraft in the world at the time. However, despite its historical and architectural significance, Hangar One's future now hangs in the balance.

Built for white students in 1936, Sumner Elementary became a pivotal catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement, when the School Board refused to admit Linda Brown, an African-American student. Although the school was only seven blocks from her home, Brown was forced to either walk one mile across a railroad switchyard or travel for more than an hour by an unreliable bus service to attend the all-black Monroe Elementary School. In 1954, the NAACP took her complaint to the Supreme Court and made history when the case—Brown v. Board of Education—struck down the "separate but equal" doctrine and mandated that all schools be desegregated.

Sumner Elementary School presently sits in a deteriorated and threatened state. Vacant since 1996, the school suffers from deferred maintenance and has sustained significant damage from water infiltration, neglect and vandalism. As current problems remain unaddressed and damage worsens, this national icon is being allowed to deteriorate even further and resources have not been allocated to stem this tide.

My question to "anonymous" is do you still not understand why a vacant or unused, deteriorated site should be considered something worth saving?

St. Elizabeth's may be the most famous mental hospital in America, but now – a sprawling 300-acre complex that dates back to the 1850s and has housed such illustrious residents as John Hinckley and the poet Ezra Pound – is also one of the most endangered. This National Historic Landmark – which at one time included a railroad, bakery, greenhouse and an impressive collection of Victorian and Colonial Revival buildings – is crumbling, and a shrinking patient population has left many historically significant structures vacant. St. Elizabeths is also now the target for an oversized re-development scheme by the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Homeland Security which would shoehorn more than six million gross square feet of office space and parking structures into this pristine and salvageable National Historic Landmark.

I personally am not against Homeland Security moving here, but I do think the preservation of this campus is important, and I'm shocked that people, such as yourself "anonymous" don't understand how a "vacant building complex" could have character.

AnacostiaQUE said...

My issue with preservation is when it exists at the expense of poverty and under-utilized areas. Preservation in places like NW is completely different compared to preservation in starved communities like - east of the river - SE.

Until we get some more major revitalization going in Anacostia, I think preservation will continue to be met with a little resistance. We have too much preservation and not enough movement in the area of revitalization. Thebalance is lacking....and the people are struggling.

Until the "preservationists" are able to give it a go and try living in a place like Anacostia for more than 3 years with no amenities (compared to NW), credibility for the preservation fight will not get the love.

Preservationists who block much needed development in underserved communities, while (themselves) living in a safer, more stable and/or walkability community can't possibly understand the reality of the person who lives in the community where preservation is being pushed.

Most people understand the historical significance of what Urban-Architect mentions, although not to the same level of knowledge. However, I suspect that Urban-Architect is not somebody I would find waiting to pick up a bag of groceries at Ambassador on the 3rd Thursday of every month.

Ward 8 is the lowest socio-economic ward in the District. To think that most residents are going to put preservation of ABANDONED historical buildings over much needed development is a stretch - in my opinion.

Everytime I drive down MLK after work or on weekends I see buildings propped up because of preservation. I see abandoned dangerous residential properties where children play nearby as well. What purpose is preservation serving if nobody seems to be able to fix it up in a way that is benefical to the residents who live there? At least make it beautiful preservation.

In my opinion, historical buildings, houses or sites like St. E's that just sit idle for years on end contributes to BLIGHT.

I live in Anacostia... I've lived in NW. For the most part, there is a big difference...

Urban Architect said...

Urban_Architect has been a Barry Farm resident for four and a half years now....

Anacostiaque said...

I'm glad to hear it...really. So many times, this is not the case.

For the record, I support presevation and would like to see a CVS or 7-Eleven occupy a historic building. If we can incorporate certain needed businesses into the historic preservation structures that remain, we get to a win-win situation. Idle preservation for the sake of preservation in 2009 in Ward 8 is not what Ward 8 needs - in my opinion.

Personally, I like Capitol Hill, but it would be nice to have amenities closer on MLK Ave....