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Spending Twenty Minutes at the Georgia Avenue Wal-Mart

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D.C. is filled with architecturally interesting public spaces. To get an idea of how people are using these spaces, Curbed writers are spending twenty minutes in a given location and taking note. Want to nominate a place for this series? Hit up our tipline. Here's what happened between 8:25-8:45 p.m. last night at the brand new Wal-Mart on Georgia Avenue.

Rumors have floated around that traffic has slowed in the past week at the intersection of Georgia and Missouri Avenue NW where the new Wal-Mart is located. That doesn't seem to be the case on Sunday, so the lesson here is that if one MUST travel to Wal-Mart on the day of an ice storm, it will even be possible to park on the street instead of the underground parking lot. It won't be empty inside, however.

What differentiates this particular big box retailer from its brethren is the entrance. Yes, the black glass facade looks dark and deserted in the spaces to be occupied by smaller tenants, especially at 8:30 p.m., but the area immediately within the glass doors is surprisingly warm. In addition to balloon arches in the brick foyer, blown up black and white photos of old neighborhood landmarks line the walls. It's an obvious homage to the community into which they now belong. A few others look upward at these photos, trying to place them and others look up again upon entering the store, proper.

The store proper is far less interesting architecturally. It's a sprawling warehouse with gray floors and exposed off-white steel beams on the roof. Basically, it looks like every other Wal-Mart. The incessant beep of the check-out registers showing that even in crappy weather, there's a demand.

Upon asking one woman how the foot traffic has been, she exhales, "Oh yeah. It's been busy." However, this does not look to be the sort of Wal-Mart where people will go because there's literally nothing else to do. The majority of the people congregate in either toys section or the grocery area which means they missed out on the employee trying desperately and unsuccessfully to untangle the box full of security wires for the electronics. But for growing pains like this, there's also a rather long line at the customer service desk that completely disappears within three minutes.