Washington, City of Bollards

Washington, City of Bollards

“It used to be that D.C. architecture consisted of graceful Georgetown mansions, neoclassical federal buildings — and, of course, the monuments. When the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts was founded in 1910 to guide Washington’s architectural development, it reviewed designs such as those of the Lincoln Memorial and the Federal Triangle. Over the seven years I’ve served on the commission, however, an increasing amount of time is spent discussing security-improvement projects: screening facilities, hardened gatehouses, Delta barriers, perimeter fences, and seemingly endless rows of bollards. We used to mock an earlier generation that peppered the U.S. capital with Civil War generals on horseback; now I wonder what future generations will make of our architectural legacy of crash-resistant walls and blast-proof glass.”

Wittold Rybczynski, Meyerson professor of urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. Read more:

“The Blast-Proof City,” Wittold Rybczynski, Foreign Policy

“I Came, Eyesore, I Conquered,” Witold Rybczynski, Slate

Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-b6L

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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3 Responses to “Washington, City of Bollards”

  1. Debra Friedmann Says:

    Would like to know how many bollards are now around government buildings? How far down under the earth does each bollard go? What is the cost of each of those green bollards around the capitol?
    The bollards are more attractive than the “jersey barriers”!

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    Debra Friedmann wrote:

    … how many bollards are now around government buildings?

    Too many.

    What is the cost of each of those green bollards around the capitol?

    The common wisdom says $10,000 each. IMO it can cost must more. These things can be concrete, synthetic marble, or stainless steel, with connecting chains, intergral lighting, or bike racks. The real cost of this “militarized urbanism” is the waste of scarce public space in our densely-populated cities. Bollards are like cockroaches — it’s not what they eat, it’s what they spoil.

    How far down under the earth does each bollard go?

    Shallow-mounted ones go down about 4 feet, deep-mounted ones may have a central I-beam or steel rod that goes down 15 or 20 feet.

    The bollards are more attractive than the “jersey barriers”!

    What isn’t? There was also another interim “security” feature rushed into service around public buildings after 9/11, huge concrete planters. These were usually not maintained and most quickly became big tubs of mud. And as we all know, there is nothing as permanent as a “temporary measure,” so many are still in place.

  3. Paul Mazzuca Says:

    Bollocks to bollards! Are we that much safer, or is that an illusion too? We here in DC area are targets and I feel sorry for those Capitol Police standing in the freezing cold and rain re-directing buses and trucks away from our Capitol 24/7.
    Thanks Mike!

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