Tuesday, January 18, 2011

we're famous (in two ways!)

Sandy, Tony and I Ride the Streetcar
Sort of. On their new website for the nascent D.C. streetcar, the District Department of Transportation put up this photo of visitors to a streetcar they displayed at the Old Convention Center during their "Streetcar Showcase" last spring. Standing in the middle of the car are my friends/former classmates at the U-Md. School of Architecture Tony and Sandy (who's also my current roommate here in Philadelphia) and myself. You might have met Tony and Sandy at the Fenton Street Market charrette in May, where they were gracious enough to lend their time and ears to the community.

We were down at the Streetcar Showcase not only to look at an actual, non-Lego trolley, but also to do research for our entry in AARP and the American Institute of Architectural Students' yearly Livable Communities Design Competition, in which I'm proud to announce we won second place for the second year in a row. (We actually found out in October, but our friends at AIAS didn't announce it until very recently and, alas, we have all already spent our prize money on rent.)

Our proposal (PDF!) was to turn the urban renewal-era Hechinger Mall in Northeast D.C. (at right) into a mix of housing, shops and community uses, including a health center, a renovated church, and a 10-acre park. Outside the mall, they're already laying tracks for one of the city's first new streetcar lines, which will start running along H Street between Union Station and Oklahoma Avenue in just over a year. We felt this was a great place to put things we saw a strong need for in the neighborhood, from new housing to improved shopping to a big public square, something we need to see more of in the D.C. area.

You can see our entry, along with the others, at the competition website.

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