Monday, April 02, 2007


We went out to a party last night. It was all the way out in Pentagon City. This multi-segmented strip mall city-state is located just beyond the famous five-sided US Department of Defense stronghold. The giant central mall has a mote filled with dark, ominously forbidding apartment skyscrapers. It's otherwise completely soulless: the whole place is as existentially construed as a Lego play-set, answering the question of whether or not a model of something, blown-up into actual size, becomes the thing it is modeled after. It does not. Sadly, it's a perfect example of what large corporate urban developers got out of the New Urbanism movement. This was a compelling notion back when it was a theory on paper. Here are the best efforts of combined retail- and living-environment multi-structure movement made to emulate the social centers of yesteryear's actual organic downtowns. Of course "white flight" decentralization and the attendant rise of "gated subdivision"-oriented box stores killed yesteryear's model. New Urbanism is the understanding that this is a sorry turn of events, but sees no trouble in gentrifying (and falsifying) existing urban spaces--so affluence will leach back--or, as is the case with Pentagon City, building a whole new downtown where once there was suburbia. Let's call it posturban sprawl: decentralized box downtowns. It's no surprise that, with his usual deep social perception, George Romero set his latest zombie movie in just such a place. That movie (and the recently viewed Playtime) were flitting through my head when I walked from the metro to the party, and then again when going home (over ever-so-aesthetic cobble-brick pedestrian access walkovers recessed into lightless one-way no-through-access roundabout intersections) some three hours later. I had a great time at that party, though. The food and the company were both terrific. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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