Smaller Museums are Better for D.C.

According to The Washington Post, David Adjaye’s work for the National Museum of African-American History and Culture shrunk by 17 percent in a 2010 design review. Much of the downsizing came from the signature crown or “coronas” which are placed on top of the structure. The improved revision was well-received by NCPC members and the Tanzanian-born architect had this to say – “Now we feel it is stronger and purer.” Gustafson Guthrie Nichol serve as the project’s landscape designers. According to Philip Kennicott, the Seattle-based firm has the chance to soften The Mall’s imperial and arid landscape. A private groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for February 22nd. Let’s hope this guy gets an exhibit dedicated to him.

But over on Pennsylvania Avenue, you’ll find The Newseum is a prime example of how illusions of grandeur cloud the minds of museum planners.  We found much of the space wasted by a central atrium that rises six floors. The exhibits themselves could be easily housed in the American History Museum which appears to the most barren attraction we have visited. In this economy, it is our opinion that cultural leaders need to be incisive when it comes to financing these monstrosities. Moreover, one can only hope civic and cultural organizations realize that other parts of D.C. could be revived with a quarter of the investment they had allocated for a grand view on the already over-crowded National Mall. If you’re looking for effective planning, check out Madame Tussauds on F Street that keeps visitors amused in a more intimate and cost-efficient environment.

Photo Credit: GGN

More Shops, Less Restaurants in Penn Quarter

Once upon a time, F Street leading into Penn Quarter used be a bustling corridor of shops. Unfortunately, that vision is a distant memory. While posing a threat to Georgetown with a wide variety of upscale restaurants and entertainment options, F Street is still failing to attract high-end retailers.

In 2003, the arrival of H&M was hailed as a major revival to the corridor. Zara, West Elm, and Madame Tussauds followed suit and occupied different parts of Woodies building. Guess opened a store at 1155 F Street. And this year, Forever 21 will replace West Elm which closed its doors for business.

The Internationalist envisions a major thoroughfare of retail activity on F Street leading into the heart of Penn Quarter. Think a la Regent Street in London or Canal Street in New York. An Apple store could have provided further regeneration of the area. After its store designs for Georgetown were being rejected, Terry Lynch, an architecht of Penn Quarter’s revival, sent a letter to Neil Albert, deputy mayor for economic development and urged him to “immediately engage Apple in other locations.” But the folks over at the Old Georgetown Board ultimately accepted Apple’s design on a fourth attempt.

Times are tough, but D.C’s economy is strong. And landlord’s in Penn Quarter will have to make an extra effort to attract more retailers and less restaurants. We already have enough of the latter.