Monday, May 23, 2011

The Southwest Ecodistrict

One of the most ghastly creations of the whole Great Age of Uglification was the grim complex of office buildings and freeways that fills southwest Washington, DC. It's a desert of concrete, asphalt, and big, ugly, box-shaped buildings. The picture above, of 10th Street, shows one of the more scenic views.

The National Capital Planning Commission has a plan to change all this. They call their vision the Southwest Ecodistrict, the plan is full of mostly meaningless words about sustainability. The clever scheme seems to be to leverage some of the Federal money available for environmental initiatives to make this wasteland a place where people want to be.

To quote the plan, “As envisioned, the ecodistrict will be an active, multi-modal, mixed-use neighborhood of significant cultural attractions and public spaces, offices, residences, and amenities.” Since this district is adjacent to the Mall -- right behind the Air and Space Museum, one of the nation's top tourist attractions -- and already has lots of high-value Federal tenants, and since developers are running out of places to put more condos in the center city, this might really work. And what a boon it would be to replace all that void with trees, cafés, shops, and human life.

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