Tuesday, April 3, 2012

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Looking Back Towards Ellsworth

Today's my birthday, so I hope you'll indulge me in talking a little about myself and my life outside the blog.

Two years ago, I moved to Philadelphia to attend planning school. And next month, I plan to come back to the D.C. area to become an urban designer – for lack of a better term, someone who's responsible for designing the spaces between the buildings. Why do I want to be an urban designer? Because of Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring and the mark it left on me.

A great public space is the backbone of a community, a place where people can come to hang out, to gather, to celebrate and protest. And though I've visited and learned about great public spaces all over the world, I keep returning to Ellsworth.

I'm always blown away by how diverse the crowds are. I've brought my friends from out of town here and tell them about what's takes place on Ellsworth during a normal day: men playing soccer, appearances from Hare Krishnas, even political protests. Ellsworth isn't perfect. The architecture could be better, and micromanagement of the space by both Peterson and the County makes it hard for it to reach its full potential. But this street has become a model for suburban communities around the country. More importantly, it's become the heart of Silver Spring and East County.

I'd like to spend my career creating more places like Ellsworth Drive, in cities, towns and suburbs throughout North America and maybe even the world. But first, I've got to start looking for work. That's why I'm reaching out to the readers of this blog.

Rendering of a new neighborhood over the railyards behind Penn Station in Baltimore.

Site plan for the redevelopment of Roosevelt Mall in Philadelphia.

I've got a passion for placemaking, an educational background in architecture and city planning, and work experience in local government and public outreach. I know how to craft spaces, but also how to craft the story around it and present it to the public. If you or someone you know is looking for someone with those qualities in your organization, I'd love to talk to you. I can be reached by email at reeddbk at gmail dot com.

I write about what I love, and I hope I can turn it into a profession. And hey, it worked once before.

Left: hand sketch, Space 15 Twenty in Los Angeles. Right: Model, proposal for a community green in Alexandria, Virginia.

I invite you to visit my LinkedIn and take a look at my resume and portfolio, which includes work from college and graduate school, along with a couple of freelance projects I've done. As always, thanks for reading. I'll let you know how my search turns out, and I look forward to moving back to the D.C. area in a few months to begin a new chapter of my life.


Matt L. said...

Good luck in your search, Dan... your perspective will be invaluable to whomever hires you!

maggieth said...

Dan, anyone would be lucky to have you! Hope you stay in this area for our sake, and hope you keep up with the blog! Good luck!

D said...

Sorry I can't directly help, but good luck with the job search! When you're self promoting, don't forget that you're more than an urban designer. You're a communicator. You can translate complex design topics to a lay audience and have a long track record to show for it. This puts you above many others and hopefully an employer gives you a job that uses those skills too.

The one thing that comes to mind is that the Purple line and design around the new stops is one of the biggest urban design projects in the region. Having attended several MTA-led meetings, their group could really really use someone who understands the issues, can innovate designs, AND communicate. Whether it's MTA or other entities involved in development around the Purple line, you might want to make some direct inquiries even if they're not advertising positions.

Good luck!

Terry in Silver Spring said...

Dan, congratulations on your degree!

Kathy Michels said...

Congratulations Dan!
I'm a neuroscientist but have always been interested in the interaction between people, the structures we build and "the spaces between them". THe "built environment". There is more attention to on the disconnect between us, our built environment and the natural world and how to meld them back together again to benefit all. What and how we build shapes how we act and think. IN fact the Society for Neuroscience had (still has?) a partnership with the Am. Inst. of Architects to study this this relationship. Cool stuff. You've inspired me. Maybe for my next career.

Kathy Michels said...

I am sure you have been following the Wheaton Redevelopment fiasco. We are trying to pull together to figure out where to best go from here. Your perspective in helping us to figure this all out would be valuable.

Dan Reed said...


Thanks for your kind words. In fact, I have been writing about the Wheaton redevelopment issue. You can see my latest post here.