Suburbia is not Sustainable; Appropriate Densities are Better

Residents of Columbia, Maryland are objecting to the increased urbanization that is developing in the Downtown. Alas, it means cutting down a lot of trees that long-time Columbians have gotten used to. But suburbia is not sustainable, and perhaps Jim Rouse, the founder of Columbia, knew this. He always intended that Columbia have a real downtown and he set aside the land surrounding Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, known as the Crescent (pictured above), for this purpose.

Increased densities in appropriate locations throughout suburbia, such as the Crescent and the Village Centers in Columbia, are the right thing to do. Here’s why:

Some Background

More than half of Americans live in suburbs, and about 75 percent of postwar construction has happened in the suburbs. That is a lot of people, and a lot of Continue reading Suburbia is not Sustainable; Appropriate Densities are Better

Current Plans for Development of the Crescent Neighborhood in Downtown Columbia

A primary goal for Crescent is to create a sustainable, urban live/work neighborhood overlooking Merriweather-Symphony Woods. This neighborhood will be unique to Downtown Columbia, with tall office and residential towers set on the periphery within new development parcels on the high ground between lower, environmentally-sensitive areas.

One of the neighborhood’s greatest assets is its natural setting with preserved and enhanced woodlands and tributaries to Symphony Stream and Little Patuxent River. And, while the developed areas will be fairly dense, the park setting, the curvilinear roads, and the rolling topography will set Crescent apart from the other Downtown neighborhoods.

A sustainable built environment will be created through the creation of mixed-use development with amenity spaces that allow residents to socialize, work, shop and play; the design of complete streets where residents can walk or bike to destinations or public transit; the design of buildings that are healthy and use natural resources more efficiently; and the creation of a healthy environment with clean water, clean air, and increased connections to the natural environment.

from Crescent Neighborhood Design Guidelines, Howard Hughes Corporation, March 2015

Columbia Arts Center

Orchard Development selected Design Collective to generate an innovative vision for a new performing and visual arts center with multi-family housing above, in Downtown Columbia, Maryland. Aspiring to become central Maryland’s paradigm for a community arts hub, the performing arts center will house Toby’s 350-seat Dinner Theater in-the-round, 2 black-box theaters, dance rooms and a full service restaurant. The visual arts wing will house the Howard County Arts Council which will include galleries, artist-in-residence studios, classrooms and offices.

In collaboration with the Howard County Housing Commission, 210 residential units will sit above the arts uses, concealing a 700-space garage, with a third-level residential amenity program featuring rooftop courtyards that overlook Symphony Woods and Merriweather Post Pavilion. At the confluence of Downtown and the preserved Woods, this merging of arts and residency will add new life and become a community anchor for Columbia.

from Columbia Arts Center, Design Collective

Crescent Neighborhood Gallery

Click on thumbnail for full size image.

National Night Out in HoCoMD Builds Community Partnership

The neighbors on our cul-de-sac in Clary’s Bright Passage, Hickory Ridge, Columbia, Md. are hosting an ice cream social for National Night Out (NNO) on August 2nd. The block party will be great fun, and serve to strengthen our neighborhood with more connections among neighbors.

Howard County Police will also be participating, a great example of community policing (“to protect and serve”). In light of the recent shootings of Cops in Dallas and Baton Rouge, it’s important we thank our First Responders, that they truly get how grateful we are for their protection.

And we need to do our part to establish partnership. Citizens will feel safer, and it makes it more likely a Cop will hear when he or she has screwed up.

There are over twenty other community-hosted parties being organized throughout Howard County. Click here for the local event near you:

https://www.howardcountymd.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=krlYimQqESM%3d&portalid=0 Continue reading National Night Out in HoCoMD Builds Community Partnership

How Diverse is Columbia, and Howard County MD?

The website WalletHub says Columbia, Maryland is among the 100 most diverse cities in the U.S., but surpassed by several cities in Montgomery County, Maryland. Of course, diversity is one of Columbia’s values that was radical 50 years ago and clearly has been an important reason that many people moved here. It is an economic driver that is important for any city to embrace. 

The WalletHub study considered diversity as more than just ethno-racial and economic diversity.  Its findings were cause for a lively discussion on the Facebook page, Celebrating Columbia Maryland and its Future. I decided to delve into the issue a bit more.  Continue reading How Diverse is Columbia, and Howard County MD?

Columbia, Md has deep connections to Freddie Gray’s Sandtown-Winchester ‘hood

SANDTOWN-WINCHESTER, BALTIMORE CITY

Sandtown is located in a historically African American area of West Baltimore neighboring the once affluent Upton. In the second half of the 20th century, Sandtown experienced economic depression, housing abandonment, crime, and racial rioting.  Whereas in the 1950s and 1960s famous African American performers such as Billie Holiday and Diana Ross performed there Continue reading Columbia, Md has deep connections to Freddie Gray’s Sandtown-Winchester ‘hood