In the April 2013 Issue
Green with Envy
'Diplomatic Gardens' Offers Lush Look At Privileged Backyards of Ambassadors
by Audrey Hoffer
Soon another glorious spring in the nation's capital will break forth. Then the city will be in full bloom, and waves of people will flood the streets to enjoy the color, imbibe the fragrance, and bask in the botanical beauty of Washington, D.C.
There are also many magnificent private gardens behind the residence walls of the ambassadors who call Washington home. Now, thanks to the imagination and keen eyes of a local couple, everyone can take a peek behind those walls with a coffee-table book laden with color photographs of these private gardens.
"Diplomatic Gardens of Washington," a photography book by Ann Stevens, with accompanying text written by her husband Giles Kelly, is an exclusive glimpse at the stunning personal backyards of ambassadors. The horticultural photography book, released last year, features historical anecdotes and details about a dozen residences, ranging from Australia to France to South Korea.
In the March 2013 Issue
Apt to Please
Luxury Flats Make Washington D.C. Comeback
by Karin Zeitvogel
Not that long ago, the U Street neighborhood was a whorl of dilapidated shops, the odd famous fast-food place, and lots of low-rise, low-rent apartment blocks.
Today, towering glass edifices rise from city blocks that used to be occupied by strip malls — towering, at least by the standards of D.C., where buildings are subject to height restrictions (see "Tall Ambitions: Officials Eye Curtailing D.C.'s Height Restrictions" in the September 2012 issue). Doormen sit behind desks inside buildings where residents work out on treadmills, sip complimentary coffee, or play video games on the X-Box in the communal lounge.
In U Street, the H Street Corridor, Penn Quarter, Columbia Heights and so many other D.C. neighborhoods, luxury is now spelled luuuxery as developers build pricey apartments and condos targeting, in many cases, young professionals like lawyers and lobbyists — anyone who earns a sizeable income and doesn't have a large, school-age family. Many of these new units, while upscale, are relatively small — two bedrooms, tops — and the city's public schools still have a long way to go to catch up to the quality education offered in neighboring Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
In the December 2012 Issue
More Than a Mall
In Tysons Redevelopment Plans, Officials Cut 'Corner,' Not Corners
by Karin Zeitvogel
Tysons Corner in Virginia is synonymous with many things these days, few of them positive. There are the Beltway snarls caused by seemingly never-ending construction to accommodate a new Metro line. There is the absolute need for a car, even to go a couple of blocks for lunch. And there's the facelessness of an urban environment defined by high-rise buildings, two huge shopping malls, offices, thousands of parking spaces, and roads, roads, roads.
Tysons Corner is seen as a place that people come to briefly, for work or some upscale shopping, before heading home to pleasanter places, usually somewhere else.
In the September 2012 Issue
Officials Eye Curtailing D.C.'s Height Restrictions
by Karin Zeitvogel
If political ambitions in D.C. run high, the buildings do not. The city's iconic skyline is dotted with historic monuments and plenty of blue sky — thanks to strict height restrictions that have kept the city from building up. But with little room left to build out, critics say residents and businesses are getting shortchanged by the dearth of tall buildings in the U.S. capital.
So officials and ordinary citizens in Washington are once again mulling whether a law passed in the 19th century and amended in 1910 that limits the height of most city buildings to 130 feet (40 meters) should be relaxed.
In the June 2012 Issue
Extreme Mall Makeover
White Flint Redevelopment Aims To Bring European Style to Suburbia
by Veronika Oleksyn
The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. Madrid's Plaza de Santa Ana. The Piazza Navona in Rome.
Not really what comes to mind when you think of American shopping centers.
But if all goes according to plan, Maryland's White Flint Mall, an aging concrete complex off congested Rockville Pike, could soon resemble these European landmarks. At least a little.
A sweeping redevelopment proposal for the 34-year-old institution envisions a mix of stores, residences, outdoor cafés and even a promenade in place of a strip of sidewalk where pedestrians currently fear being run over.
In the April 2012 Issue
Design with Heart
Redecorating for a Good Cause In DC Design House Challenge
by Stephanie Kanowitz
Redesigning a house in six weeks is a challenge. Add to it that the house is more than 10,000 square feet and 23 of its rooms and spaces will each be remodeled by a different designer, and it sounds like pure chaos. But it's more like controlled madness, if you ask the decorators involved in the fifth annual DC Design House, which benefits Children's National Medical Center.
"It's a significant challenge, but it will be fun," Lorna Gross, owner of Savant Interior Design in Bethesda, Md., said of the annual design showcase and fundraiser.
This year's house is a seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom estate in Spring Valley that was built in 1956 for media magnates Francisco and Gladys Aguirre. Francisco Aguirre, a native of Nicaragua, was an international consultant and a co-founder of the Diario Las Americas newspaper, still run by the family in Miami.
In the March 2012 Issue
Established and Eclectic
Two of D.C.'s Most Established Neighborhoods Also Its Most Eclectic
story and photos by Dave Seminara
Two of Washington's most iconic, distinctive neighborhoods also couldn't be any more different from one another, though they share an enduring appeal that continues to evolve and redefine D.C living.
On one side, couples browse posh furniture boutiques for antiques or stroll along canal paths on lazy Saturday afternoons. Several blocks — and a world — away, thumping dive bars and immigrant-owned eateries attract hipsters on raucous Saturday nights. But these scenes only speak to one side of these multifaceted, well-established yet surprisingly eclectic neighborhoods.
In the September 2011 Issue
Quarter of Change
After Years of Revitalization, Penn Quarter's Personality Shines
by Jacob Comenetz
At the symbolically significant halfway point between the White House and Congress, located on two hillocks above the Potomac marshland, Pierre Charles L'Enfant's original plan for the city of Washington envisioned a national cathedral, or pantheon to American heroes, to be constructed on a low ridge of dry land at the intersection of 8th and F Streets, NW.
But in 1836, the technology-obsessed young nation began building a more practical, worldly structure on that spot. A massive granite monument to American ingenuity, the U.S. Patent Office, towered above the modest two- and three-story brick buildings that rose around it. Together with the General Post Office building across F Street, where construction began in 1839, it anchored the neighborhood of government workers, merchants and laborers who lived and worked in the core of the nascent capital city.
Civil War Heroes Immortalized Along Circles of Embassy Row
by David Tobenkin
While 150 years have passed since the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter in the waters off Charleston, South Carolina, sparked the Civil War, many of the Union's leading generals can still be seen walking or riding the streets of Washington, D.C. A surprising number of bronze and stone memorials to American military heroes can be found along Massachusetts Avenue, NW, ensconced among the foreign embassies, chanceries and ambassadorial residences of Embassy Row.
Many of the top Union brass, alas, are located elsewhere: Their commander in chief, Abraham Lincoln, is honored elsewhere throughout the city, most notably at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall.
In the June 2011 Issue
Tale of Two Circles
Dupont and Logan Become Centerpieces of D.C. Change
by Jacob Comenetz
To get a sense of the dramatic changes in demography and development that have swept Washington, D.C., over the past decade, one can hardly do better than take a stroll up 14th Street, NW, from Thomas Circle to U Street.
Along this route, the backbone of "mid-city" Washington, lies a diverse stretch of buildings and businesses, young and old, newly refurbished and under construction, unequaled in the District. The people one is likely to encounter along 14th Street, too, represent the changing face of D.C. today.
That Washington is rapidily changing is readily apparent to anyone who's lived here in just the last few years alone. The 2010 Census data, released in late March, confirmed what one can tell from walking down the street: D.C. is getting younger, more populous, and more diverse. What was once known as "Chocolate City" is on the verge of losing its black majority.
In the April 2011 Issue
Despite Downturn, High-End D.C. Real Estate Holding Up Quite Well
by Stephanie Kanowitz
Borrowing a cup of sugar could get a whole lot more interesting if the vice president were your neighbor — assuming you could get past the Secret Service officers. For the first time in 50 years, the property next door to the VP's official residence on Observatory Circle is for sale. Asking price: $7.2 million.
That buys you not only bragging rights to 3400 Massachusetts Ave., NW, but your own piece of history. The 7,128-foot house was built in 1926 by Christian Heurich, who owned a brewery in Foggy Bottom. Later purchased by Dr. Marshall Parks, the father of pediatric ophthalmology and a founder of Children's National Medical Center, the house was visited by the previous two popes.
Rebirth at Water’s Edge
Deluge of Development Changing Fortunes on Banks of Anacostia River
by Luke Jerod Kummer
In some cases, the revitalization of the District has been the story of a rising tide lifting all boats, but for other long-neglected neighborhoods, a better metaphor might involve the bursting of a dam.
Only a decade ago, the area to the west of the Washington Navy Yard was a dried-up, post-industrial ghost town. But these days, a spate of construction projects is breathing new life along the banks of the Anacostia River as part of an ambitious residential and commercial venture called the Capitol Riverfront — which is transforming the area's historic structures while trying to preserve the original industrial spirit that buoyed the neighborhood during the Navy Yard's heyday.