Arts Desk

Temporium Insanity

Congratulations are in order for Mount Pleasant, which won the D.C. government's 2010 Temporium grant! The award is part of the city's Temporary Urbanism initiative. You know—temporary urbanism?

Last week, Prince of Petworth broke the news that the D.C. Office of Planning had awarded Mount Pleasant Main Street a grant to establish a Temporium. The Temporium will hold the storefront at 3068 Mt. Pleasant St. NW before the Nana clothing boutique moves into the space. So what's a Temporium? According to the press release, a Temporium is "a temporary, pop-up retail space for local artisans to exhibit and sell their work. The Mt. Pleasant Temporium is scheduled to open for 24 dates between late January and February."

That release notes that this Temporium will be the District's second: "The first Temporium was implemented on the H Street NE corridor in July 2010. It attracted more than 1,600 visitors to H Street NE over four weekends and generated sales and new opportunities for 17 participating designers."

Good on Mount Pleasant—and bully for the D.C. Office of Planning and the fine people in the Temporary Urbanism division—but a little credit where credit is due: Philippa Hughes started the fire.

As she explained to the City Paper for an October cover profile, the D.C. government was so impressed by the Temporium that it adopted it as a whole new funding category of its own. The Office of Planning released a request for applications for future Temporiums—despite the fact that the thing was the brainchild of Hughes. The announcement of the December 2010 Temporium grant-winner even retroactively adopts the H Street NE Temporium as the Office of Planning's first success in temporary urbanism.

But let's not lose the forest for the trees! It would be a boon to the District for city authorities to simply stamp an agency name on successful organic urbanist developments in the city, but too frequently D.C. finds the urge to interfere irresistible. The District Department of Transportation's approach to slug lines and the D.C. Council's philosophy on food trucks are examples in which the city would have been better served by officials who just wanted to take credit for others' smart ideas.

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