Monday, January 12, 2009

Becoming a City: Lessons for Downtown Columbia

As I noted in a previous post, Bring Back the Vision is hosting a talk by Roger K. Lewis entitled “Becoming a City: Lessons for Downtown Columbia” this Wednesday evening from at The Vantage House auditorium in Town Center.

So who is this guy?

Roger is a professor emeritus at the University of Maryland School Architecture. He also writes a column called Shaping the City for the Washington Post. He knows a little bit about Columbia. Twenty years ago he was part of study group put together by The Rouse Company to chart a future for Columbia’s downtown.

The Sun ran this story about him on Sunday. Among his Columbia observations were the following:

"Columbia is a distinct settlement with the identity, population and geography of a city - it just doesn't look or behave like one,"

"There is a clear advantage to having a downtown that is more than a central business district,"

"The Lakefront is a lost opportunity in a culture that has rediscovered [the benefits of living and playing near] water,"

"Columbia is a patchwork of disparate elements, and it's not greater than the sum of its parts. "But it could be."

Roger will not get into the specifics of GGP’s town center plans but he will “offer generic observations and suggestions gleaned from lessons learned by other cities and from Columbia's own mistakes and successes.”

I like the fact that BBV is doing this. Instead of constantly hearing from what I refer to as weekend or armchair planners, BBV is raising the dialogue by hosting an independent view of the opportunity and challenges facing Columbia.

The meeting will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Vantage House, 5400 Vantage Point Road. It is open to the public but reservations are requested by e-mail to


Anonymous said...

Yet another presentation that won't "get into specifics". Therein lies the lesson.

Skip the class.
Save the time.
Save the gas.

Timeshift. If you're really curious about Roger Lewis' points of view, hear hours of them here -

The speaker, a D.C. resident and Houston native, and apparently a fan of Houston's two Beltways, seems to like the idea of D.C. having three Beltways, adding two additional rings of highways further out than the current Beltway. I wonder where that third Beltway will cut through Howard County's heart.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Woulda been better off going to hear Paumier's show a couple of months back. He knows Columbia and went onto specifics. Great ideas!