Category Archives: Built Environment

Witnessing a diner Built Interior

Hunter Hoskins

Jeremy Kramer

Interior Built Environment

What once was the old Hospitality High School located on the north west now sits alone, abandoned, locked. With only a paper sign affixed to its surface, serving as a small indicator of what is to come and what was for this historic building. “Planning meeting 1/16/2017”. My assignment- “to document this building’s interior” had been halted, unless I was willing to break multiple civil and federal laws, which a price which carried too much risk.

Undeterred by my set back and motivated to pass the class, let alone the paper, I moved forward, weaving in and out of any place I could physically enter. A hard task, to accomplish only  as a result by the sheer timing of my birth, had placed me below the necessary agegate requirement that a group of politicians and concerned parents decided long before I was born. Regardless that I was well underaged I sought out any place which I could sit myself down and take look at the interior.

An hour passes by and I find myself further and further from my desired starting point. By this time it has started to become darker, and after being turned away from so many bars, clubs and restaurants, due to a lack of space, food priced well above my budget, my age or a combination thereof. I had found myself at the Florida Avenue grill.

 

Located a quick 9 minutes away from my starting location. It’s exterior is unassuming, standard to any roadside diner seen across the country. Dirty chrome plates the outside, while folded up lawn tables chained to the wall guard the entrance. Two heavy set wooden doors are the only observable entrances. Worn from decades of daily use and a sign which claims “The Oldest Soul Food Restaurant in the World” only to be backed up with various slogans such as “Since 1944” and “Zagat’s rated”; these stickers serve as a stark contrast which the exterior claimed to proport laid inside.

Classic to any building in Shaw, entering this grill is like stepping into a time capsule. How far back being determind only by how long ago the interior was updated, or cleaned. For this grill, the menus and interior advertising point to the 1970s.

Upon entering one is seduced by the scent of Southern Cooking and the sizzling of a griddle lubricated with the grease of recooked animal fats. The air laid heavy, heat from the open kitchen permeated the whole restaurant. No one cared or seems to care. Framed signed photos of celebrities circled the interior perimeter of the restaurant. Excluding a few, their identities were all but unknown to me. Actors, Anchormen, Musicians and Community Leaders stretching back to a time before Kodachrome, there in photo props serving as the only identifiers  to who these people might be.

Sitting down, my eyes scanned across the restaurant. At this time the small restaurant was empty, it was between shifts. Regardless the restaurant was not devoid of people. The following are those which remained:

 

An Older man at least 60 years senior with gray facial sported an old Washington Red Skins baseball cap, gray slacks and a green zipped up sweater and beaten up peacoat sat engrossed in a copy of the Washington Times sports section, occasionally picking at an indeterminate dinner platter. A twenty something man with a Hitler-youth haircut, button up shirt and suspenders sit across an equally aged woman in reclaimed and repurposed thrift shop dress well out of fashion. Their table is empty except for her companion’s MacBook and two glasses of water. They are silent expect for the occasional “what about this one” and “no I don’t like the location”. It is clear they are not locals-yet. A car honks in the distance. Black-blue Jeaned green flannel wearing 30 something year consumes a plate of fried catfish while listening to music through over priced headphones. A Sunday dress wearing woman waits impatiently to be noticed. A group of seven college aged kids in matching black shirts surround the cash register, loudly joking and talking among themselves. Their jovial tone permeates the quiet interior with talk of after shift activities and coming up parties. Their companionship and camaraderie is something to envy.

Digital Environment Washington DC Hospitality High School

Hunter Hoskins

Jeremy Kramer

Digital Environment

The building is located at 1851 – 9th Street, NW in the Washington DC neighborhood of Shaw. It currently sits abandoned. Doors locked and lights off.  The building joins many of its, neighbors frozen in time, time capsules to another era; all but waiting to be cracked opened and gentrified for an incoming class of people eager to buy up what is quickly ceasing to be cheap property and even cheaper rents. A small poster affixed to the door reveals its fate “Planning Meeting 1/16/2017” its future is already determined. 1851 – 9th Street, NW which once held not only The Hospitality High School of Washington, DC but also The Odd Fellows Temple, will be rezoned and turned into upper-class apartments. Once again metamorphosing to fit the needs of its environment 1851 – 9th Street, NW once again escapes the wrecking ball.

However, 1851 – 9th Street, NW’s metamorphosis is an odd one, if only because of what, up until fairly recently it housed. 1851 – 9th Street, NW was the home of the now closed Hospitality High School of Washington, DC. The Hospitality High School of Washington, DC was founded in 1998 as charter school which specialized in preparing and training students for a life in the hospitality industry(“Hospitality High > About Us”).

 

It’s closing which occurred less than two years ago appeared rather odd. “Washington DC is quickly changing, with new hotels and resutrants being built every day. The demand for a trained and experienced work force seemed to be at an all-time high, why close it?” I thought. Searching for answers I quickly googled the school and was greeted with a link to a website: http://www.washingtonhospitality.org/. Don’t bother searching that link, it only now hosts a series of adds-placeholders until the domain name is bought up again, if it ever is. Undeterred by this set back. I plugged the address into to https://archive.org/web/ ‘s “Wayback Machine”. This revealed a few hits. While incomplete, the snapshot into the past which the “Wayback Machine” provided was the best I was going to get. I chose the date of “February 8th, 2014” as it not only was the most complete snapshot, but also the most recent before the servers went down.

The website itself is/was very unremarkable. Plain, while employing a limited color pallet. The website for The Hospitality High School of Washington, DC serves five distinct purposes: 1) To provide the outside world with basic contact information on the institution itself. This includes the physical address of the school, its fax and phone number, an email which one can use to request more information (the email is dead as of December 1, 2016). 2) To provide basic information on the school, such as its founding mission. 3) To promote itself, not only of its existence in the first place (the mere existence of the website accomplished this task by itself) but also of its impact on the community. This is accomplished by including media elements such as sound bites and article links from local news agencies which feature the High School. 4) To provide students resources to further their studies. These include an academic calender, links to scholarship applications, necessary forms and documents and a directory of (then) current faculty and staff. Finally, the website saught to provide information to those who sought to be employed by the institution. All in all the website was not different from any other high school website at the time. It was basic by design, and displayed its nessary information in a clear and organized manner.

The website was not designed in such a way as to hide necessary bits of information from the public in hard to access locations. The site design promoted just the opposite, with its home page provided easy to access details nessary details (such as event reminders and contact info) while other information was located in easy to access and understand sub-categories.

 

Due to the necessary route which one has to take to access the site as it previously exisited, it is impossible to achieve a full understanding of the site as no all of it is backed up or backed up correctly. Pictures are missing and drop down menus don’t load where they should.  Not enough information exists to conclude that by the time the school closed, it was not facing any outward hardships nor was it excluding (or not excluding) those who wished to get involved in the hospitality industry.

Works cited:

“Hospitality High > About Us.” N.p., 8 Feb. 2014. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

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Built Environment exterior French Street

Jeremy Kramer

Built Environment Exterior

 

The first thing one sees when they approach French street are the colors. Vibrant, and unique each house is painted a different pallet. Although the houses are beautiful, an unknowing eye could easily miss the turbulent history of the location. French Street is located in the Washington DC neighborhood known as Shaw. Shaw, a historically black neighborhood was once known as the epicenter of African American culture in the United States during the turn of the century. But by the mid ‘80s Shaw was no longer the cultural capital it once was but a shadow of its former self. It had turned from an area known for its arts and music into an area known for crack, prostitution and burnt out buildings. Today, forty years later the area has greatly changed, many of the older buildings have been renovated and turned into luxury condos, only to be neighbored by empty foundations and oddly located parks- scars of the past standing as reminder that the area still hasn’t changed all that much from what it once was to what it is becoming.

At the end of the block sits a park, it isn’t that odd, parks are commonplace in Washington DC. However, what makes this park peculiar isn’t so much the place where it is located, but what it once was. This park was once the location of a row house, which capped off the end of the block. This house, which most likely burnt down during the riots following the assignation of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968, is now the site of a park. The proof of what this park once was, is easily seen because the neighboring apartment just cuts off. Lacking any windows, the only thing looking over the park is a simple mural of flowers. A serine image for the turbulent past this block once held.

Going down the block from the park, you see that the change occurring in French Street hasn’t finished. Houses are still getting restored and re-painted, some are still gutted while others look as though they were just built. But this is only superficial; French Street still is recovering. For example, when I visited French Street a few weeks back, I wasn’t paying too much attention to where I was walking and I stepped on some glass which happened to be littering the sidewalk. At first, I thought that I had merely stepped on a broken beer bottle that someone had thrown there (French street is located right around the block from a small cluster of trendy bars so this was not a crazy idea), but as I look closer I realize that what I had, in fact, stepped on was automobile glass. The clear sign that some person had their car broken into fairly recently.

This shows the perfect dichotomy of this block, on one hand, you have young Yuppie couples walking their children down the street on a brisk fall evening, between well-manicured lawns and luxury automobiles, while on the other hand, you have a car being broken into and gutted buildings who haven’t seen a proper owner in at least 25 years let alone a proper coat of paint.

This dichotomy is only a short lived phenomenon. As more wealthy residents move in and push out the older inhabits, these empty lots and decrepit homes will become luxury condos and dog parks. Despite all the renovation which has and will occur, it can never cover up the past, as it the rhetoric of the city is seared into the block.