About that “hostile architecture” in Lamont Park

by Prince Of Petworth April 24, 2017 at 10:45 am 24 Comments

bench mt. p

Thanks to Mary for sending the update on the bench divider over the weekend. Unclear if it was a rogue removal or an official removal. Commenters to the original post say: “There is an ANC meeting tomorrow night at the Mount pleasant library at 730 pm to decide what to do about these.”



“The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) would like to thank the community for bringing this to our attention. The installation of the middle dividers was not authorized by the District government. Therefore, at DPR’s request, the Department of General Services (DGS) removed the dividers earlier this week.”

  • I’ve yet to hear whether these were uninstalled by DC. I walked by them this morning and dowel rods had been carefully inserted in the bolt holes. ANC 1D will take this up at our 7pm meeting on Tuesday at the Mt Pleasant Library. DHCD Director Polly Donaldson will give a presentation and we will discuss a few DC policies related to homelessness, immigrant communities, and affordable housing. So, it will be an informative and substantive meeting that goes well beyond bench dividers.

    • Mary Kate

      I saw them being removed. It was someone in uniform. Sorry, I can’t tell you whether it was DC Parks, DGS, or some other agency. But it was someone official, not just someone local from the neighborhood.

    • MtP Anon

      They were removed by someone in uniform. Couldn’t say what agency. But I saw it, and the guy was clearly a DC or fed employee.

    • Thanks!

  • bruno

    Mary beat me to it. I noticed, on a Mt.P. gambol last evening, the uncharitable wooden wedges were gone. I buy cots to put out if the wedges should return.

    • Suse

      Gambol = great word! Haven’t heard that in a while.

      • Anon

        Damn, I didn’t even come here to learn, but I learned.

        • bruno

          At National Harbor, you can gambol and gamble! :^)

  • NH Ave Hiker

    Still seems like a whole lot of fuss for a minor issue.

    • welp

      The attack on values is more concerning for a lot of people. Things like that decide the character of a neighborhood.

      • textdoc

        Given the tenor of many PoPville threads, I was surprised how many people came out of the woodwork to post in the previous thread that they objected to the dividers. (Though perhaps the thread attracted people who aren’t regular PoPville reader/posters, rather than bringing out the lurkers.)
        I guess the outcry is more about adding dividers to benches that previously didn’t have them. FWIW, I see benches with dividers pretty frequently and don’t think much of it.

        • danger dave


      • anon7

        What do you mean by “attack on values”? Many benches have a median divider that prevents someone from taking a nap on them… I certainly do not support a private citizen unilaterally making the decision to add one (and I personally don’t like the dividers), but calling a divider “hostile architecture” is laughable.

        • Anon

          That’s an accepted, technical term. Laugh away.

          • textdoc

            I don’t get the impression it’s a neutral term — it seems to be loaded, the way the term “partial-birth abortion” is loaded.

          • Anon

            “hostile” – correct, definitely not neutral

        • Anonymous

          I think that in this particular case, it is the addition of a divider in response to a complaint about benches being used for sleeping that made the divider “hostile.” In general, there is such a thing as “hostile architecture,” meaning things in public spaces that are specifically designed to discourage (or be “hostile” to) certain uses – benches with features (indentations, dividers, shallow depths) which render them comfortable enough to sit on but uncomfortable to lay on; metal rods or rails inserted on low marble or cement walls at intervals that allow people to sit or stand on the walls but make it difficult for skateboarders or bikers to use as a platform for tricks; spikes on window sills or ledges to keep birds (and people) from sitting.

    • Anonthony

      I kind of agree; I wish people were this passionate about finding a solution to the problems that lead to vagrancy in the first place!

      • textdoc

        Yeah, but those are complex and not easily (or quickly) resolved.

        • Anonthony


      • bruno

        One solution is to revoke liquor licenses along Mt. Pleasant Street. I know a merchant who grouses about vagrants but profits selling them alcohol.

    • CathedralHeightsMetro

      I mean, some of us read this blog pretty exclusively for the fusses about minor issues. ;)

      • textdoc

        This is true. :)

        • Mt. Pleasant Architect

          Hostile Architecture yields 211,000 articles on Google Scholar. It is a “real thing” and it was perfectly illustrated by the misguided bench dividers in my neighborhood. The attempt was as wrong-headed as the attempts to reduce traffic by adding lanes to a road… Just because the “obvious” solution is easier than the effective solution doesn’t make it better or right. Plus it is simply the mean thing to do and we don’t need any more bullies in the world.


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