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Lawrence Small is Living Large

Smithsonian director Lawrence Small has exhibited tendencies toward extravagance. While I have no problem with som simple office refurbishment, $160,000 seems inordinately high. Small has also freely used the full amount of the housing allowance for routine expenses at his $3.5 m house in Woodley Park. In the meantime, Small has not shied away from asking Smithsonian staff to limit their own expenses. I've no doubt that Small is a good fund raiser, but these expenses are coming at a time when Smithsonian buildings are not in good repair (indeed, the Arts & Industries Building was shut down last year due to poor maintenance). Such expenses give the appearance of an abuse of the public trust. What do you think?

The Washington Post

I agree, he will be hard pressed to explain what connection these refurbishments have to do with management of the Smithsonian.

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Whats up with these guys who think they can embezzle and mismanage struggling non-profits like the Smithsonian Institute. He should be taken to court and forced to payback the money he wasted. Whomever they pick to replace this guy I hope will understand how important the Smithsonian is to our country.

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Club Name in White Plains Kicks Up Furor

A club in White Plains, in southern Charles County, has renamed itself Rednecks, a move that isn't going over well with many in the county. While I might support the right of a club owner to determine the name of his or her establishment, I agree with the sentiment that the name does little to promote a more progressive image for an area which could likely benefit from one. Thoughts?

The Washington Post

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Construction on P Street Has Business Owners Seeing Red

The resurfacing and reconstruction of P Street near Dupont Circle will be a great thing once the work is completed next April. In the meantime, however, business owners along this busy stretch of restaurants and shops say they fear losing a lot of buusiness due to the construction. There is also major construction going on at the old Blaine/Westinghouse mansion. The latter will be renovated and converted into luxury apartments and officers. The former retail space will likely become a restaurant or bakery. All of this construction will certainly produce a better looking street, but it will be hard on various businesses until it is completed.

The Washington Post

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Rowhouse "Pop-Up" Additions Defacing Neighborhoods

An epedemic of unregulated additions to rowhouses threatens the architectural integrity of many neighborhoods throiughout the District. In particular, Petworth, Columbia Heights and areas of Capitol Hill and Chevy Chase have been affected by the growing number of additions. While I am sympathetic to the needs of families for more space, I'm less swayed by the economic factors indicating more profit gained from these unsightly additions. While it's true enough that many of these buildings don't stand on their own architecturally, there is something to be said for architectural cohesiveness in a neighborhood. Adams-Morgan is already showing the ill effects of these additions. The issue is thorny indeed, with champions of property rights lining up to defend the owners' rights to alter their property. On the other side is the very real possibility that whatever architectural unity these neighborhoods now possess will soon be gone. Thoughts on this anyone?

The Washington Post

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Well, that's a good question. Hotels in the 19th century were generally not as large as those we have today, but the forces which re-shaped architecture also re-shaped what we have come to think of as the modern hotel. WHile prominent hotels existed in many cities, from Willard's in Washington to the Hoffman House in New York, these did not always have space dedicated to public gatherings. Most hotels, however, assumed a role in the public theater. Boston's Tremont House and New Orleans' St. Louis and St. Charles Hotels were also important gathering places where everything in the way of public business was conducted. The more modern idea of what we associate with a "convention hotel" might be credited to Adler & Sullivan's Auditorium Hotel. Begun in Chicago in 1886, the building was hailed for its many innovations and included a spectacular domed room. Fortunately, the building- if not all of its interiors within- survives today as part of Roosevelt University. You can find out more about it here.

Wikipedia- The Auditorium Building

The argument could be made that many earlier resort hotels, from the Old White at White Sulphur Springs (now the Greenbrier) to the many early hotels of the Catskills (among those of which surviving is the Mohonk Mountain House near New Paltz). The hills of western Virginia and the mountains beyond were rife with health resorts too. The real pioneer of the "convention hotel" was probably E.M. Statler, whose original Statler Hotel in Buffalo paved the way for many others, all of which were specifically designed for the meeting and convention trade. Washington's Statler survives today as the Capital Hilton.

I hope this answer may be helpful to you.

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In a word, yes. The modern convention hotel, as an architectural type didn't really appear in Europe or Asia until the 1950's and early 1960's. A few examples would be the early Inter-Continental (Vienna, Prague, Helsinki, Budapest- virtually all over the continent) and Hilton hotels in Europe Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid and so forth). These companies have been called pioneers in erecting this sort of building throughout the world, though the government of many a country was involved. If you read John Perkins' book, you may note that he mentions the Hotel Indonesia, an Inter-Continental property built by the government. This is too far off topic here. And I have moved the posts accordingly.

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In a word, yes. The modern convention hotel, as an architectural type didn't really appear in Europe or Asia until the 1950's and early 1960's. A few examples would be the early Inter-Continental (Vienna, Prague, Helsinki, Budapest- virtually all over the continent) and Hilton hotels in Europe Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid and so forth). These companies have been called pioneers in erecting this sort of building throughout the world, though the government of many a country was involved. If you read John Perkins' book, you may note that he mentions the Hotel Indonesia, an Inter-Continental property built by the government. This is too far off topic here. And I have moved the posts accordingly.

With the risk of pushing my luck too far (but this project is really important to me), what other authors do you suggest I should read regarding Convention Hotels and Convention Centers? (besides browsing the net) or whom should I turn to for further discussions on this topic?

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For information on Ellsworth M. Statler, I'd suggest finding a copy of A Bed for the Night, a biography from the 1950's. Conrad Hilton's Be My Guest may possibly shed some light on what you are looking for. A book you might find interesting as well is The Architect as Developer, about John Portman's work- it's only tangentially about hotels though. These books may or may not have what you are seeking. Perhaps you need to look for architectural books of the period you are interested in. I have found that going to the library and searching through their architectural stacks can sometimes lead to surprises. It may also be worth perusing the magazines- Architectural Record and the like. If I can think of other books, I'll add them here.

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I always thought of a convention hotel as a stand alone hotel usually accross the street or adjacent to a convention center usually connected by a pedestrian bridge. Two cities come to mind Baltimore and Philadelphia. I seem to remember seeing my first convention hotel in Atlanta (The Omni?) in the early 70's. I think the convention hotel idea is only about 40 years old.

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Volatile Real Estate Market Leaves Awkward Gaps

While metro D.C.'s real estate market may be more stable than many markets elsewhere, the signs of volatility have left a number of holes- literally holes in the ground where proposed projects have been canceled or put on hold. The dimunition of the stock of affordable housing is a problem which deserves to be addressed. On the face of it, market forces are to blame and many private companies and investors cannot be held accountable for the distress caused to many residents who have been forced to move elsewhere. On the other hand, this sort of behavior could be seen as highly irresponsible, not to mention detrimental to those displaced. The effects of such demolitions are more obvious in the outlying suburbs, but the cancellation of projects within the District is not necessarily outside the picture. In this current world of tightening credit, we may see more of this sort of thing happening. Thoughts anyone?

The Washington Post

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I had a sort of suggestion, but idk how it would work or if it would work.

Instead of having everything in one forum, make it into 2 subfoums a Greater Washington one (NoVa, DC, Southern MD) and then a Maryland one (all other MD news and specifically Baltimore)

Then just name the forum Maryland - DC or MD - DC or DC - Maryland or etc...

The general topics could just be whatever falls into the two areas or is state/district wide.

any thoughts?

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I'm not sure what the point would be since hardly anyone ever posts around here. :)

BTW, I would give just about anything for a decent breakfast in NoVA. One that isn't bagel based, or an IHOP type place.

Have you tried a little further north? I am in Rockville, near Rockville Pike --- The worst case of sprawl, but a lot of food places, nice local ones too not all chain places (even thoug the area is mostly chains) a lot of local small cafes. I already went to two great sushi places.

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Great article! Laptopia? Seems to fit Dupont circle and the West End.....I live near the very corner mentioned in the article which now sports Starbucks, Five Guys, Hair Cuttery et. al.. I think I liked the independent bookstores which once lined this stretch of Connecticut Avenue much more than I like the chain stores which have replaced them. Still, Dupont circle has a variety and vitality which is hard to duplicate. I can't wait to read the rest of the article.

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Segway Tours

Capital Segway is offering Segway tours of Washington. Having just replaced my 2003 model with a new Segway P2model, I will be joining the tour tomorrow morning. I hope to get a few pictures taken while I'm at it. Will get them posted here eventually. The Segway tours have been popular with tourists and groups as well. With the cost of gas going skyward, I've also noticed that the catcalls from cars have diminished. The Segway many not be the perfect answer to every transportation issue, but it could prove to be a useful niche. Pictures to come....

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Segway Tours

Capital Segway is offering Segway tours of Washington. Having just replaced my 2003 model with a new Segway P2model, I will be joining the tour tomorrow morning. I hope to get a few pictures taken while I'm at it. Will get them posted here eventually. The Segway tours have been popular with tourists and groups as well. With the cost of gas going skyward, I've also noticed that the catcalls from cars have diminished. The Segway many not be the perfect answer to every transportation issue, but it could prove to be a useful niche. Pictures to come....

I went to the Zoo the other day, and after all the walking from my apt, to the metro, to the zoo, back to the metro to downtown dc i was tired. I wanted to rent a segway, but didnt know if you could? If so how much? because i would love to really get around a lot of dc and save my lazy legs :D

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