Re-Imagining The Rest Stop

You’d be forgiven for thinking you had stepped back in time upon entering the old incarnation of the Maryland House rest stop. As a frequent traveller on I-95, I too thought I had warped back to the 80’s. But last month, a gleaming new facility was unveiled to the public. Better food options. Lighter and welcoming spaces. Clean and modern facilities. This is the Maryland House of the future. Operated by Areas, USA and designed by Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore, the new Maryland House is set to capture the public imagination. 
It also begs the question; why can’t other rest stops be just as good if not better? Quite a few en route to New-York could do with a face list and Maryland House should serve as an inspiration. The State of Maryland executed a public-private partnership which allowed the rest stops to be upgraded. Commuters need better services and food options when traveling and state governments need to respond to those needs.
Unfortunately, some states such as California have strict laws that prohibit private retailers from operating at rest stops. Such laws were enacted to protect local businesses operating by major highways. Sadly, such laws do not not promote healthy competition. I should not have to drive off the beaten path to find a dining facility. In this day-and-age, people look for convenience. Not headaches. 



Renderings: ASG/Chesapeake House (Opening Summer 2014)


Most Beautiful Apple Store in THE WORLD


God forbid if D.C. were to home to such spectacular architectural design. Members of the D.C. Fine Arts Commission or Old Georgetown Board would certainly faint at such a revolutionary Apple store being proposed in the Pacific Northwest. Luckily, Portland’s Design Commission has approved this elegant and striking design. Way to go, Portland! We always knew you had more progressive visionaries than D.C. did.

We caught up with Gary Allen who edits the IfoAppleStore website. We asked him which city will be home to the best-looking Apple store of the future; Aix-en-Provence or Portland, OR.

The Aix-en-Provence and Portland stores’ design seems to be similar. However, Aix-en-Provence is still a little “iffy.” I haven’t heard any further confirmation of the store or its design. On the other hand, Portland is a definite “go.”

For that reason, and because Portland will literally be one block wide (with 165 feet of glass), I’d vote for Portland. I’d also point out that it breaks new architectural ground for Apple’s retail chain, as well as retail in general. There are no stores that look like it now anywhere, either smaller or on the same scale. The store will also be a major contribution to Portland’s architectural stock and will, like other Apple stores, create a major destination for the city.

It’s significant that Apple’s architects took the rear of an existing interior mall that was making no visual or cultural contribution to the cityscape, and turned it into something so spectacular. When the design was first presented to the city’s Design Commission, several members had mostly-minor objections to the architecture. But it was clear that the group would never turn down such an enriching building for their city.

Photo Credit: Gary Allen/BCJ

The Rundown…

Culture: DC is fifth on the “bohemian index”, a list of uber-creative cities. Richard Florida, author of The Creative Class and founder of the Creative Class Group, believes San-Antonio is the most non-bohemian city.

More Culture: Actor Laurence Fishburne brings “Thurgood”  to life.

Transport: Zipcar plans to go public as a way to pay down its debt.

Design: Massimo Vignelli, who designed the original signs on the Metro system, thinks they have gotten too cluttered.

Media: Tony Burman, head of Al Jazeera-English, claims BBC offers a “British perspective of the world.” Interesting, but the BBC is the single most quoted news source by US bloggers, says a Pew report.

Funny and Random: The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also known as the Deficit Commission, has run out of money.


The Rundown…

Retail: According to sources, Gucci will open a new store in the Tysons Galleria. Confirmation received through mall website. It’s parent company, General Growth Properties, filed for bankruptcy last year.

Event: The “Social Safeway” celebrated its opening in Georgetown and threw a VIP party. It was the event people were waiting for all year. A party at a grocery store.

Design: Beginning May 12 at 7th & H Streets NW, DDOT will implement the “Barnes Dance,” an X shaped pedestrian crossing pattern that will allow people to move in any direction including diagonally.

TV: The Good Wife on CBS makes watching lawyers and courtooms fun.  Hence, the team at The Internationalist decide to hand out a virtual award to the freshman hit for best tv drama of the season. The show has strong characters, clever plotlines, and an excellent score by David Buckley. We think it has an Internationalist appeal.