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I enjoyed but was also depressed by your article on D.C. “dead spots” (“Lost in Space,” 1/14). I strongly urge you to submit these places to the Project for Public Spaces’ Hall of Shame (http://www.pps.org/gps/list?type_id=2) . One Washington site that is currently listed in the Hall of Shame is the plaza surrounding the headquarters of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (http://www.pps.org/gps/one?public_place_id=146).
The organization is a nonprofit that promotes better design and use of public spaces. It attempts to understand what makes some spaces succeed and others fail. Not surprisingly, most of the spaces originating from grandiose planning concepts fail at the human scale.
You might also be familiar with the classic Jane Jacobs book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. One of the flaws of poorly designed urban landscapes is large blocks that make it difficult for people to get from one place to another. That is compounded by some of the projects that you mention that absorb and kill connecting streets.