Friday, February 13, 2009

civic building: not kicking ass, but taking names

The Gazette reports that MoCo's forming a committee to find individuals worthy of having their name on the Silver Spring Civic Building, scheduled for completion next spring. (Is that right? The building is still very much a whole in the ground.) Names already being tossed around include James P. Gleason, the first Montgomery County Executive; former executive Doug Duncan - whose name was not put on the Rockville Library because he's still alive - and former state delegate Jane Lawton.

Each of these people either lived in Rockville or Chevy Chase, bringing me to ask: shouldn't we be making a list of Important People who lived in Silver Spring? That was the reasoning behind naming a new Downtown park for former Planning Board Commissioner Gene Lynch, who lived in Woodside, or the re-dedicated Marilyn Praisner Center in Burtonsville: these were places in the communities Lynch and Praisner were a part of. (An exception is the Paul Sarbanes Transit Center at the Silver Spring Metro, named for the senator who still lives in Baltimore.)

As this new building will [hopefully] become the center of Silver Spring community life, it's only appropriate to name it for someone who has been a significant part of Silver Spring community life themselves. It would be pretty awesome to name the building for some of our more famous native sons, but I think you'd have a hard time making the case for the Lewis Black Civic Building or the Ben Stein Civic Building. (I vote for the Dave Chappelle Civic Building - or the Connie Chung Civic Building. Fun with alliteration!)

So . . . what would this list of Silver Spring Important People look like? (Or should we just concentrate on selling naming rights? Pepsi Civic Building, anyone?)


Robert said...

If it has to be named after a person, naming it after a Silver Spring resident is a good idea. But I think that, in general, naming government facilities after people is a bad idea. It is even worse to name facilities after someone who hasn't been dead for at least 25 years. You never know what will come out that will end up making the choice incredibly inappropriate, like the J. Edgar Hoover name on the FBI building.

Terry in Silver Spring said...

Rachel Carson was a Silver Spring resident.

Thomas Hardman said...

Rachel Carson has a park named after her, up around Sunshine, MD. Nice little park, from what I hear.

Robert: You know, the ultimate Graffiti tag would be painting a frilly dress on the FBI building. ;)

Dan, I realize that as an Urban Planner type with concentration in architecture, given that you have that particular hammer, everything you see looks like that particular nail, to overwork a metaphor.

And admittedly you have to expect that for DTSS residents and people who like that sort of crowd scene, yes, probably that building will be the center of civic life.

Other than that, what's wrong with you people? Can't you ever stop building things? Yeesh. Build a nice trail through a nice park, like they're doing at the Aspen Hill Local Park, where at long last they're placing a hiker-biker trail bridge over Viers Mill Road. It won't be done until late 2010, from what I hear, but at least they're building something that gets people back out into nature -- or what's left of nature hereabouts -- rather than packing them into buildings.

We need more places like "the Turf" or for that matter parks like we see downtown, such as Dupont Circle Park or the environs of the Zoo or even the little pocket parks like the dog-park on 17th at Swann St NW. No deer, and no deer-ticks, but accessible public green spaces that don't have walls, doors, or officious county boneheads sitting behind a security desk carding and logging everyone who comes and goes.

chippy said...

The Dan Reed Civic Center.

That's my vote and I am sticking with it!

rb said...

Rachel Carson lived a few blocks from the Civic Center at her father's house on Highland Drive.

What about Blair Lee III, Lieutenant Governor and Acting Governor in the 1970's? At least four generations of his family has resided Silver Spring and I believe his family was credited with founding Silver Spring.
...even if you don't like his family owning the JCPenney property to be use for the county's new music venue.

How about Goldie Hawn? She lived in Takoma Park but her father's business was in SS.

Thomas Hardman said...

Name it the Thomas J Hardman, Jr. Civic Center and I'll still not consider it the center of my civic life. ;)

Unless maybe the serve cheap beer and have punk-rock shows and barbeque served from hot-dog stands outside. And, you know, let the emos and skate-rats all hang out there and pretend that that hate the place that you can't chase 'em away from...

Robert said...

re: "Rachel Carson lived a few blocks from the Civic Center at her father's house on Highland Drive."

Rachel Carson did indeed live at 904 Highland Drive in 1938-39 while working as a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. However, unless "RB" has some information I'm not aware of, I don't think the house belonged to her father. As far as I know, she simply was a renter. See p. 223 of "Home Sites of Distinction: The History of Woodside Park," available at the Silver Spring and some other Montgomery County libraries.

If "RB" has information showing that it was her father's house, I would appreciate hearing about it so I can make a correction in the next edition of the book.

-- Bob Oshel, Woodside Park historian

WashingtonGardener said...

I concur that any naming should be of a person who is deceased at least 20 years ago -- there is too much of a rush to name things in the heat of the moment as you grieve for them (Praisner) or for folks who are popular right then (Duncan).
Does it really HAVE to be anmed after a person? Why can't it just be the "Silver Spring Civic Building" and leave it at that?

chippy said...

Micheal Phelps. Let's name it after Micheal Phelps!!

Thomas Hardman said...

We can only call it the "Phelps Civic Center" if the architect designs it as a giant BONG!

Which, for Montgomery County -- at least in terms of architecture -- would be at least original.