Now Entering Borderopolis

by August 11, 2011 at 7:55 am 1,477 0

Troy Urman, Borderstan

Troy Urman

Borderstan welcomes Troy Urman who will be writing about architecture and urban planning in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area. His new column, Borderopolis, will run every two weeks. Find out more about Urman below.

From Troy Urman. Email him at [email protected].

Like it or not, the Borderstan area is undergoing an “Extreme Makeover: Urban Edition.” There is no doubt the Logan Circle-U Street part of the neighborhood is currently one of D.C.’s fastest growing, with more than 700 residential units and 100,000-plus square feet of retail space on the boards and in the works. In fact, the Census numbers prove it.

Community meetings and the blogosphere are raging with debates over the development planned for nearly every corner along 14th Street (see Greater Greater Washington and U Street Dirt.) The terms density, scale, and historic character are quickly becoming dangerous territory.

While I’m clearly not the first to throw my two cents in the ring, I do want to join the conversation — as a resident and as a professional. Rather than reactionary, let’s be proactive.

Rather than post snarky comments in response to snarky comments, let’s have an informed discussion on the bigger questions: What does it mean to ‘gentrify’? Is density my enemy? How can a brand-new building be ‘historically appropriate’ if it’s so much taller than its neighbors?

Now, let me briefly introduce myself. My name is Troy and although I originally hail from the suburbs of Minnesota, I have been living and working as an architect in D.C. since 2006. My childhood days shuffling through the Lego box may be over, but in my adult life I continue to engage and learn how buildings and cities fit together in the ‘urban playground’. Personally, few things give me more satisfaction than bringing new life to old buildings and neighborhoods.

Now, I’d like to propose a new term:

Borderopolis: Border + Polis

1. The burgeoning urban area between Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, and U Street neighborhoods in the District of Columbia.

2. The state of transformation, edging from a medium-density urban condition into a fully walkable, 24-hour, mixed-use metropolitan neighborhood.

With Borderopolis, I’m looking to shed some light and a bit more optimism on the architectural and urban story unfolding on our very streets. It’s an exciting and dramatic story and we all have a role in how it will play out. We’re on the verge of a critical transformation between Dupont, Logan and U Street. Welcome to Borderopolis!


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