The most annoying thing on the Metro is when the train stops and you just sit there, immobile. For what Arthur Cotton Moore has in mind, that would not be a problem.
Moore is a well-known architect, a District native whose touch can be seen in various places around town. The octogenarian’s latest idea? To take decommissioned Metro cars and, rather than scrap them — “What a waste!” he says — transform them into housing for the city’s homeless people.
He noted that the 4000-series cars, which have just started going out of service, were mainly plagued by propulsion problems.
“We don’t need a propulsion system if we’re going to make them stationary,” Moore said. “They are a very nice enclosure which is watertight and has lovely windows.”
Moore used some software to sketch out his idea: Add prefab kitchenettes and bathrooms, and each car would produce a pair of 560-square-foot, one-bedroom apartments.
“That’s not a bad one-bedroom,” he said. “Small, but still something livable, compared to where they’re living now: under the bridges.”
Moore said he envisions numerous cars laid out on vacant city land. There could even be vegetable gardens.
There are a few hurdles, including the fact that some cars contain asbestos.
I reached out to Metro, and spokesman Dan Stessel emailed back: “Just as we are providing decommissioned rail cars upon request to emergency responders in the region for training purposes, Metro will consider any viable proposal for other uses of the cars, provided that it is budget neutral to Metro and complies with all applicable laws, regulations, etc.”
Moore lives at one very distinctive Washington address — the Watergate — and can see another from his bedroom: Washington Harbour. He just happened to have designed that one.
I asked him what it’s like to look at his handiwork every day.
“With every project, there’s usually something that you’re disappointed in,” he said. “One of the things I was most disappointed in Washington Harbour was the fact that it was not a harbor.”
Moore said his initial plans called for a small boat harbor, reachable by a low bridge, like the ones that span canals in Amsterdam. Still, it cheers him when he sees boats tied up to one another at the sea wall. “I’ve seen as many as 22,” he said.
Moore is full of ideas. “I’m a kind of a recycler of sorts,” he said. “I like to see things repurposed if possible.”
That’s why the Kennedy Center pains him. “That’s the largest flat roof in town,” he said. “Why wouldn’t that be the perfect place for solar panels?”
The Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, damning them for decades. A goat-owning Cubs fan was insulted at Wrigley Field, keeping that team out of the World Series for 71 years.
Bob Hitlin of Reston, Va., thinks our baseball team is similarly snakebit. “The Washington Nationals have never won a first-round series in the playoff,” Bob wrote. “Why?”
His theory: In the year the team moved from Montreal to Washington — 2005 — the National Zoo had its first successful panda birth. But in 2010, Tai Shan was spirited off to China. Since then, the Nationals have lost in the playoffs three times: in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
“We just sent another panda, Bao Bao, to China this week,” Bob wrote. “As spring training begins, fans may have other reasons for the curse, but this one makes sense to me.”
He added: “Get Tai Shan back, and watch what happens.”
The Nationals have had some great players recently, but it’s true Washington hasn’t been in a World Series since 1933. What do you think caused the curse?
Frankly, giant pandas are a lot of bother. Squirrels, on the other hand, have so many babies you never need to send them to China.
My (seventh!) annual Squirrel Week is a-comin’ next month. So is my Squirrel Week Photo Contest. If you’d like to enter, compose an evocative image of the ubiquitous mammal and send it to me at email@example.com. Top prize is a $100 gift card. I’ll also publish my favorites online.
The deadline is March 31. For complete rules, visit wapo.st/squirrelcontestrules.
I mistakenly moved a tree in my Wednesday column. The tree I wrote about is on 13th Street NW — across from the Warner Theatre — not on 14th Street. Or it was: It was removed Wednesday.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.