Communities and Metro Stations

Washington Metro LogoSo I was looking the breakfast links on Greater Greater Washington this morning when I found a hilarious post (including a sarcastic map) by Matt Johnson and David Alpert regarding the new Silver line station names proposed by Fairfax county. Working Station names proposed by WMATA were cited as too boring. Fairfax County's effort churned out an even more boring list of names, all starting with a certain large region then hyphenated  into more specific area (table below). I don't know much about Virginia, so I can't speak to the superiority of the names, but I imagine everyone could do better. Maybe I should send Fairfax County the London Underground map hanging above my desk for inspiration? I pull two valuable lessons from this. a) The community may not be the best source for a station names largely because b) the community, in general America, doesn't value the rich resources of history. We should hand over new station names to regional experts and historians. I bet they could draft up meaningful station names fulfilling everyone requirements and maybe give everyone a new perspective of each neighborhoods. If we could start valuing knowledge again we could overcome this fiasco.

Working name Fairfax proposal
Tysons East Tysons-McLean
Tysons Central 123 Tysons I&II
Tysons Central 7 Tysons Central
Tysons West Tysons-Spring Hill Road
Wiehle Avenue Reston-Wiehle Avenue
Reston Parkway Reston Town Center
Herndon-Monroe Herndon-Reston West
Route 28 Herndon-Dulles East

I'm betting , in the end, the strongest power of corporate and developer interests will win this war. Prove me wrong Fairfax County!

"I'm not a nerd"...

What PIPA and SOPA have taught us, in case we didn't think this already, is that Congress doesn't understand technology.  They even admit it by saying they aren't "nerds" as documented in Jon Stewart's The Daily Show (I think the use of the term "nerd" over "geek" to sound hip continues the point). Call me a rocket scientist, but shouldn't people who understand how stuff works make regulations about that stuff. A good rule of thumb in 2012- anyone who still uses a Blackberry should not be allowed to discuss technology. While we know it's just lobbyist telling congress what to do, let's pretend they are actually concerned about copyrighted material being stolen off the internet. Were these same people worried about tapes in the 70s and 80s?   Were they pushing the 95th congress to ban tape decks? Probably not, so let's take back seat to technology laws for awhile so we can have Wikipedia in peace.


This past month NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) decided it was time to ask their record holders for a little feedback. The feeling to voice my opinion about NCARB strikes a desire similar to say, congress asking me how they could better serve the American people. I started the survey one day to find the process to take longer expected. I'm sad to say I did not complete the survey. At least I can happily know the perserverant managed to fill the result banks with dissatisfaction. So why is NCARB so bad? I know very little about NCARB, except they enforce the rules and take my money for record keeping, so I decided I should take a look at potential issues. Naturally, my mind questions the current leadership and organization structure. I decided to read through the bylaws and looked at the leadership and discovered it's politics as usual. Members of the board have worked their way up a through the system and only serve a short and mostly unpaid terms. The terms are so short,  when one reaches the executive board they are only allowed to serve for a year (two years for Presidents). For the powers that NCARB holds I would think the board would have a more influential tenure, after all, a typical collegiate student council has a longer allowed term.

Another drawback to the current board is age. The board is served by a wise old crowd of tested architects. Unfortunately, the generation of architects that lead our professional field are far from understanding the current wave of technology. This is a much larger issue of our field, but relates to how NCARB has implemented technology. Fortunately they have made advances in technology, but still don't have the refined feel that a tested architect would practice in detailing a building.

Two points of contention seem to come up in my circle of soon-to-be architects that might be the result of the generation gap. One is the Intern Development Program (IDP). While getting the process online deserves applause, it still largely reflects the old paper model. Why should one have to keep track of hours with a spreadsheet on their computer, to transpose the same numbers to an online sheet to send to the boss and NCARB? IDP should skip a step and allow one to save unapproved hours online like an email draft . Then when the user is ready, they could send the logged hours to the boss and NCARB. (one can save unsent hours now)

Another point that is popularly irritating is the ARE (Architecture Registration Exam) drafting program. NCARB doesn't want to endorse one of the many popular drafting software. This seems logical as some people might not be familiar with AutoCAD.  NCARB's solution was to developed their own poorly made drafting program that requires test takers to learn a software they will never use again. NCARB should allow all the software companies to load their drafting software and allow users to chose what they want. As long as the requirements are met in the drawings, who cares what program was used? Why not allow hand drafting (this seems more universal than a NCARB only program)?

These are not rocket science solutions, but ones that my generation might have a better insight on that could help the old guard and the profession. As designers and frequent users of the computer, young architects could make NCARB better than dealing with the DMV.

I Thought this was a Mistake

I watched the job's speech from the Official White House enhanced version the night of the speech (a little over two weeks ago). The enhanced version simply had a bunch of infographics to the right of the screen supporting Obama's speech. I thought it was odd that the bridge he said needed attention was the Roebling Bridge according to the infographic. I believe the Roebling bridge was just renovated, and I am pretty sure no semi-trucks are allowed on it.  (In case you didn't know, the Roebling bridge predates and was a prototype of the Brooklyn Bridge, of which Roebling designed) So when I heard about Obama going to the bridge two days ago I thought "wait, hes going to a different bridge than his infographic stated." I am not the only person who noticed this. wrote a brief article about it. I checked the current  enhanced version of the speech and it now shows the correct bridge.

I was talking to a friend the other day and she pointed out that the White House communications was really lacking in the healthcare debate. I still think it is lacking. That is a huge slip up, and one of cultural significance. Its clear that someone didn't know, or likely care, about the specifics of a bridge somewhere.  A communications team should check everything leaving the White House ten times, and everyone working for the White House should have an extensive knowledge base of the United States including a huge understanding of the little nuances of regions. While a bridge isn't a nuance, the fact that this slip up made it out shows that accuracy is not important.

I would love to see the makeup of the White House including where they are from and what qualified them to work there. I am confident I would be unimpressed.