Neighborhood Nomad: Cecille’s Mid-Century Modern Enclave

This is one in a series featuring the places and spaces people call home. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomad.

May 31, 2012, Washington, DC: From the liveaboard community at Gangplank Marina to the mid-century modern architecture of the Tiber Island and River Park cooperative homes, Southwest DC has its own thing going on. And it’s the perfect place for Cecille Chen, a lover of history, architecture, design and modernism. Judging from her explosive involvement in the neighborhood from the moment she moved it, this is clearly what it means to find a natural and built environment that brings out the best in you.

This is what it means to be in your element.

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The City That Never Was

December 11, 2011, Washington, DC: An exhibit now on display at the National Building Museum (above) reveals how this side of the city where we live could have been different. Instead of the U.S. Capitol anchoring national attractions at the easternmost end of the Mall, federal buildings and museums could have extended along an East Mall to the Anacostia River. The historic homes in our neighborhood along what’s now East Capitol Street could have been cleared for formal landmarks; the Supreme Court could have been constructed several blocks east of its current location, closer to Lincoln Park. The lot where construction crews have just broken ground across from Eastern High School could have been accounted for with some stately building long ago.

This vision is among many maps of a city that never was, renderings of buildings that would turn out differently, and proposals that never got off the ground now on display at the National Building Museum. “Unbuilt Washington” opened just before Thanksgiving and runs through May 2012 at my favorite of Washington’s many museums.

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A Washington Reflection

October 22, 2011, Washington, DC: I set out early this morning on a big red beach cruiser ready to document one of my former Washington neighborhoods. It was the first morning in months my bike brakes were cold to the touch, and a stark line of clouds dramatically divided our city, slicing it precisely down its east and west sides. To be honest, the day grew grayer and more bland as time went by, and I’m still considering how to inject some punch into my photo essay of Dupont Circle. For now, I share the highlight of the morning — a photo snapped from the east side of the Capitol Building, five minutes into my long morning ride.

Sunset at Yards Park

September 23, 2011, Washington, DC: Great birthday party, great sunset last night at Yards Park. The redevelopment of this neighborhood by Nationals Park and the Navy Yard is really coming along. With people increasingly coming here for celebrations like Capital Bikeshare’s Thursday birthday party, the waterfront park and its unique design elements are surely coming to life on the Anacostia River in southeast D.C.

See more pictures of the revitalized park after the jump…
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