The entire housing and development world is loaded with jargon. Sometimes, I’m forced to write sentences that frankly—-this is hard for me—-I’m not proud of. They include phrases such as:

  • “Transit-oriented growth”: Buildings on top of buildings by Metro stops.
  • “Workforce housing”: Housing for poor people who can’t afford to live in D.C. anymore unless you build them this housing.
  • “Mixed-use development”:Housing plus grocery stores, dry cleaners, Potbelly’s and/or Five Guys.

I think these terms are pretty easy to grasp. Use them and people know what you’re talking about. But one term that’s slightly more vague is “Smart Growth.” (Not “Dumb Growth” for sure.) Perhaps, some visuals would be useful. That’s where the National Resources Defense Council comes in handy. The group has developed a series of images transforming boring, treeless, often sidewalk-free streets into busy thoroughfares with street-level retail, more greenery, fountains, benches—-essentially converting land from drive-through country to park-and-walk-around land.

NRDC has visuals examining Fairfax, Rockville, and Columbia, as well as towns and cities across the country.

In October, the Washington Post reported a new plan for a walkable Rockville Pike that could be transformed in the coming years. Want a glimpse of the future? NRDC show a classic boxy building set back from two huge parking lots turned into a lush complex with three buildings and green roofs.