Your View: Development must set the atmosphere of an area

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Your View: Development must set the atmosphere of an area
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By Poul Hertel, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
Just recently, I saw an advertisement by developer EYA for the company’s newest condominium design in Montgomery County. Make a few tweaks and you have something that looks like their plans for Robinson Terminal South. Like the design for the terminal, it has no sense of place, only common architecture you can find anywhere.

I happened to watch the “Antiques Roadshow” episode on PBS that emanated from the rehabilitated offices of the shipyard that built the Titanic in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This building firmly engrains the sense of waterfront and shipbuilding. If you look at some of the pictures of the buildings, you will see why I keep talking about creating a place where people want to go. Building architecture is critical in setting the stage and creating the ambience for an area. It is the key ingredient that is so often neglected in planning.

Yes, developers maximize profit, but everyone has forgotten that they do so while subject to conditions we set as a community. Allowing them uniformity for the sake of economy might minimize costs, but only for the developer and certainly not for the community in the end. There is no doubt people will move in to the new Robinson Terminal South buildings. However, they will move in because of the views of the Potomac River and not for the sense of community.

This is ironic since city council kept pushing all other plans aside while insisting the waterfront should not be privatized. The earlier waterfront plan that was pushed aside would have encouraged mixed use, not an almost uniformly residential development. Look at the recent projects and ask yourself: “Why are there no people around, even with the mega densities that have been developed there, like Carlyle and James Bland?”

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