August 29th, 2011

Crystal City, BRAC, delays, etc.

I'm reading Whyte's _City_, specifically, the chapter about Concourses and Skyways (short form: he doesn't like them, however, he does recognize that some of them have really useful and/or cool aspects to them), and stumbled across a mention of Crystal City.,_Virginia

The patent office used to be there and the biggest tenants are currently military, however, BRAC round 2005 was due to change that by, oh, hey, a little over two weeks from now. But you know BRAC: they make a plan and then they only ever do part of it and that late. And then they make another plan. Lather rinse repeat. I guess it's better than nothing? Maybe.

From the wikipedia entry:

And elsewhere:

That latter says the deadline has been moved out to 2014 and is optimistic about the "opportunity" to fix up some aging real estate. Har de har har.

From the first article:

"A major reason given for the relocation was the need to secure the facilities where soldiers work. New rules say that buildings that house military and intelligence agencies have to have greater offsets from the road to guard against truck bombs. Walls, too, must be thicker than in normal office buildings. ... As part of BRAC, personnel would be moved into office parks located on military bases since guarding a perimeter is more cost-effective than securing mixed-use buildings in urban settings."

And that's why I'm posting about Crystal City. I _really_ wanted to know how the trend back to regular sized blocks and mixed-use was playing out in a built environment so manifestly Not That Way (and clearly, there's a whole big story there, because there's a visioning process that has gotten kudos from the CNU, but never mind that now). But when I stumbled across the above quoted text, I just about fell out of my chair.

The military tends to adopt things after everyone else has figured out why they're a really not great idea. Slow to the game, shall we say. And then they hang onto them bull-doggedly, long past when anyone else can remember why that even seemed like a good idea. Turns out they do it with land use, too. Amazing.