Kaid Benfield Archive


How a great public space anchors a great city neighborhood: DC's Dupont Circle

Kaid Benfield

Posted August 5, 2009 at 1:21PM

, , , , , ,

The National Building Museum is hosting a terrific series of short videos on what makes a "Great Green Place."  The examples come from Washington, DC, and a while back I featured one on the revitalizing Columbia Heights neighborhood, narrated by DC planning director Harriet Tregoning.

This one features Dupont Circle, without a doubt a candidate for the city's very best urban neighborhood, and more specifically the green space that is within the Circle itself.  It's a special place to me, because I lived only a block away for a time (and might still pick that particular abode as my favorite of the places I have lived), and I quite literally changed my career there.  While sitting on the Circle's pleasant grass and having a bag lunch with a friend who was an environmental lawyer (I was not yet in the environmental field), I mentioned that I thought I wanted a change from the corporate law firm where I was working then.  My friend, who was employed in the environmental branch of the Justice Department, was leaving the area to take an exotic lifetime opportunity and said, "why don't you apply for my job?"  I've now been in the environmental field for 29 years.

I digress, but in the service of telling you that I do find Dupont Circle to be an immensely successful public space where good things can and do happen.  The video is narrated by Building Museum curator Susan Piedmont-Palladino, with whom I had the pleasure of working last year on an exhibit.  She's great, and so is the video.  Enjoy: