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Jun 28 16

Planning Department Announces Calendar of July 2016 Events

by Bridget Schwiesow


SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is pleased to announce its July 2016 calendar of community meetings, work sessions and public events. These events offer opportunities for the Planning Board and Planning Department staff to discuss policies and engage with the public. Review the full list of events below and go online to for more details on projects and plans.

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Montgomery County Planning Department Events in July 2016

July 7 –  The Planning Department will hold its first public meeting for the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Strathmore Music Center’s Comcast Lounge (5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD). Discussion will focus on the future goals and proposed concepts for the area around the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metrorail station.

July 11 – The Planning Department will hold a public meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. to discuss the recommendations of the White Flint 2 Sector Plan at Luxmanor Elementary School (6201 Tilden Lane, Bethesda, MD).

July 14 – The Planning Board will have a final work session on the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan to approve transmittal of this plan to the County Executive and County Council. View the Planning Board Agenda for details on additional agenda items.

July 18 – The Planning Department will present preliminary recommendations for the Rock Spring Master Plan at a community meeting to be held at Walter Johnson High School (6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, MD) from 7 to 9 p.m. Topics include land use and zoning; transportation; community facilities and sustainability.

July 21 – The Planning Board will have a final work session on the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan to approve transmittal of this plan to the County Executive and County Council. View the Planning Board Agenda for details on additional agenda items.

July 21 – The Planning Board will vote on approving the transmittal of the revised Subdivision Staging Policy to the County Council for review. View the Planning Board Agenda for details on additional agenda items.

July 21 – Submissions are due for the Planning Department’s second annual Design Excellence Award competition. Projects eligible for the award include public and private buildings, landscapes, urban designs and developments located within Montgomery County that were built within the past 10 years and are currently occupied and in use. The selection of a winner will be made by an outside jury of accomplished professionals, including architects, urbanists and a landscape architect. Learn more about the awards jury. The winner will be announced on October 20, 2016 during an awards celebration at the Silver Spring Civic Building.

July 28 – The Planning Board will review the Framework for the Bicycle Master Plan. Consult the Planning Board Agenda for additional items. This meeting is the last before the Planning Board takes a recess in August. The Board convenes its next meeting on September 8, 2016.

Jun 27 16

Planning Department Congratulates Montgomery County Winners of 2016 Commuter Connections Employer Recognition Awards

by Gary Goodwin

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Board honors Toole Design Group and United Educators on June 27 for reducing traffic congestion

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is pleased to announce that the Toole Design Group of Silver Spring, MD and United Educators of Bethesda, MD have won 2016 Commuter Connections Employer Recognition Awards from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

The two Montgomery County organizations were honored on Monday, June 27, 2016 at an awards ceremony at the Marriott Washington at Metro Center hotel in downtown Washington, DC. Three other groups from the region were also honored at the event. Applicants were evaluated by a selection committee of transportation officials and winners were chosen for their ability to offer measurable commuter benefits and reduction of fuel consumption and emissions.

“These awards acknowledge businesses in our County who have voluntarily initiated alternative commuting programs to reduce traffic congestion in the region,” says Gwen Wright, Montgomery County Planning Director. “They provide great models for other employers to follow.”

The Toole Design Group, which specializes in transportation planning, is helping the Planning Department to develop a Countywide Bicycle Master Plan. The Silver Spring-based firm won the Incentives Award for its employee programs to use mass transit and alternative means of commuting. The firm offers a pre-tax transit benefit of up to $125 per month, $25 toward annual Capital Bikeshare memberships and cash incentives for biking and walking. The success of this program has equated to a reduction of 82,000 vehicle miles traveled per year and a savings of more than 4,100 gallons of gas annually.

United Educators was honored with the Telework Award for its offsite working practices, leading to a low turnover rate, increased productivity and improved work/life balance. Since the early 2000s, this liability insurance and risk retention group for educational institutions has allowed its staff to telework. Employees are supplied with a computer, printer and reimbursed for phone and internet charges. As a result of this program, United Educators has shown a reduction of more than a million vehicle miles traveled per year and savings of more than 55,000 gallons of gas annually.

Jun 27 16

Planning Department Creates Purple Walkway to Improve Pedestrian Safety

by Bridget Schwiesow

Painted pathway on driveway connects neighborhood to Department’s headquarters and downtown Silver Spring

purple-sidewalkSILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has painted a vivid, purple pathway on the driveway next to Royce Hanson Park in front of its headquarters. This colorful walkway was completed over two weeks in late June to provide a safe and attractive pedestrian connection between the Department’s offices, nearby Woodside neighborhood and downtown Silver Spring.

Planning Department staff initiated the project last year as a solution to the problem of people walking or biking through the parking lot on no particular path – and frequently strolling in front of moving cars. Staff decided that this situation could be improved by creating a piece of public art.

“We call it the Improv for Walking,” says urban designer Margaret Rifkin who led the project with Planning and Parks Department colleagues. “It’s an improvised, quick and inexpensive solution to improve the daily routes of people not only from our offices but from the neighborhood. We hope some of those who visit our building will be inspired to buy some paint and create similar paths on their own parking lots.”

The white-edged walkway, requiring 50 gallons of paint specially made for asphalt and concrete, leads past the MRO building entrance to an alley between a parking garage and a hotel that is often used to reach nearby shops and restaurants in downtown Silver Spring. The color purple was chosen to be highly visible while still being an attractive complement to the brick and greenery of nearby Royce Hanson Park. Accents of green and orange highlight a crosswalk design, which was inspired by the geometric artworks of Venezuelan-born artist Carlos Cruz-Diaz.

The pathway project reflects the key principles of walkability, human scale and context sensitivity that are being promoted by the Planning Department’s Design Excellence program.


Jun 22 16

Planning Department Launches Campaign to Identify All Bike Racks in County

by Bridget Schwiesow


Citizen-led survey will help planners to recommend more locations for racks as part of Bicycle Master Plan

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is launching a survey of all bicycle racks in the County as part of the ongoing Bicycle Master Plan. Planners are asking cyclists and residents to identify racks at schools, retail centers, offices, transportation hubs and other locations.

Citizens can sign up online to track bike racks in one or more areas, using an app created by BikeArlington. This data will help the County to recommend more locations for bicycle racks in Montgomery County.

Find out more about the Bicycle Master Plan.

Jun 14 16

County Council Approves Appointment of Transportation Engineer and Planner Gerald R. Cichy to Planning Board

by Bridget Schwiesow

Newest member will replace Amy Presley in July 2016 after her two consecutive terms on Board

Gerald R Cichy 250SILVER SPRING, MD  The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), will have a new member, transportation engineer and planner Gerald R. Cichy, PE, AICP. On Tuesday, June 14, 2016, the County Council unanimously approved the appointment of Cichy to the Board, effective July 22.  He replaces Board member Amy Presley, who is leaving after serving two consecutive terms and is ineligible for reappointment. Her last Board session will be July 21.

Like Presley, Cichy is a registered Republican. By law, the position had to be filled by a Republican, a voter who declines to affiliate with a party or by a member of another party officially recognized by the Montgomery County Board of Elections. In addition to Presley (R), current Planning Board members are Chair Casey Anderson (D), Vice Chair Marye Wells-Harley (D), Norman Dreyfuss (R) and Natali Fani-González (D).

“In joining us, Gerald R. Cichy will hit the ground running, especially as we review important transportation policies, from the Purple Line station improvements to the Bicycle Master Plan,” says Board Chair Anderson. “His experience with transportation issues in the County will be incredibly valuable as we make hard decisions about roads and transit.”

About Gerald R. Cichy

Cichy is well prepared to serve on the Board, having worked at the Maryland Transit Administration/ Maryland Department of Transportation on projects such as the Corridor Cities Transitway, Purple Line light rail system and regional transit-oriented developments. From 1979 to 1984, he was director of transportation for Montgomery County and collaborated with federal, state and county agencies as well as developer and citizen groups to solve mutual problems. During his tenure, Cichy worked with Planning Department staff to coordinate implementation of master plan transportation projects.

Among Cichy’s achievements is a patent for a bus rapid transit vehicle with doors directly opening to transit platforms. He is a recipient of the Federal Transit Administration’s “Innovative Idea Award” for a 200-mile bus rapid transit system supplementing the Metrorail system in the Washington, DC region. In 2016, he graduated from the Senior Leadership Montgomery program. Cichy holds master degrees in both city and regional planning, and civil engineering from Catholic University. The 77 year-old Rockville resident has lived in Montgomery County for nearly 50 years.


About the Montgomery County Planning Board

The five-member Planning Board oversees the Montgomery County Planning Department and Department of Parks, and advises the County Council on land use and community planning. The Chair serves a full time position on the Montgomery County Planning Board and receives a salary of $200,000. The part-time Board Members receive an annual salary of $30,000. They also serve as Commissioners of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, a bi-county agency established in 1927 to protect public land.

As part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the Montgomery County Planning Board works to:

  • Manage physical growth.
  • Plan communities.
  • Protect and steward natural, cultural and historical resources.
  • Provide leisure and recreational experiences.

Learn more about the Montgomery County Planning Board.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission encourages the involvement and participation of all individuals in the community. In accordance with the requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M?NCPPC) will not discriminate against individuals with disabilities in its services, programs or activities. M?NCPPC works to make its facilities and materials accessible and to hold public meetings in locations that are, likewise, accessible. M?NCPPC will generally provide, upon request, appropriate aids and services and make reasonable modifications to policies and programs for persons with disabilities (e.g., large print materials, listening devices, sign language interpretation, etc.). For assistance with such requests, please contact the M-NCPPC Montgomery County Commissioners’ Office, at least a week in advance of a meeting or event, at (301) 495-4605 or at residents can also use the free Maryland Relay Service for assistance with calls to or from hearing or speech-impaired persons; for information, go to or call (866) 269-9006. Residents may also call the TTY number, (301) 495-1331, for assistance.

Jun 9 16

Former Planning Board Member Esther Gelman Remembered for Helping to Shape the County

by Bridget Schwiesow

Before serving on the County Council, Gelman served on the Planning Board and influenced its direction

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, sadly announces the death of Esther Gelman, who served on the County Planning Board from 1970 to 1974. Gelman died on June 6, 2016 after a long illness. She would have been 85 on June 14.

Gelman first became acquainted with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) in the 1960s while working as a local newspaper correspondent covering the organization. In 1970, she was named as a member of the Planning Board and forged a close association with Board Chair Royce Hanson.

Gelman was known for her commitment to the master and sector plans that have led to Montgomery County as it looks today. She also worked to secure the appointment of Norman Christeller as Hanson’s successor in 1981 and helping to secure the appointment of attorney Gus Bauman to the chairmanship in 1989.

After leaving the Planning Board in 1974, Gelman was elected to the County Council and served as its president in 1984 while also doing a stint as president of the Maryland Association of Counties. She remained on the Council until 1987.

Throughout her long political career, Gelman was an advocate for citizen rights and helped improve human services for residents of Montgomery County. She sponsored legislation in such areas as comparable pay, religious leave accommodations, smoking prohibitions and the establishment of the Community Crisis Center for abused women.

More details about Gelman’s life and career can be found online.

Jun 7 16

Proposed Revisions to County’s Subdivision Staging Policy Were Focus of Public Hearings on June 2

by Bridget Schwiesow

Transportation and school elements of the Subdivision Staging Policy were discussed at public hearings held at the Planning Board meeting in Silver Spring

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is updating the Subdivision Staging Policy (formerly called the Growth Policy) for review and approval by the County Council by November 15, 2016. The intent of the Subdivision Staging Policy is to ensure public facilities, particularly schools and transportation facilities, are adequate to accommodate new development.

As part of this review process, two public hearings – one discussing transportation and another focused on schools – were held on Thursday, June 2, 2016 during the Montgomery County Planning Board meeting in Silver Spring (8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD). The Public Hearing Draft proposes changes to the current Subdivision Staging Policy, which includes the following updates.

Transportation Policy Updates

Planners recognize that there is not a “one size fits all” set of rules and have revised the transportation policies to recognize current land use patterns, modes of travel other than single occupant vehicles and planning visions for different parts of the County. Policy areas have been reorganized into four groups; Core, Corridor, Wedge and Rural.

A spectrum of policy area-based transportation tests appropriate for each group has been created, with a strong focus on transit accessibility. Some groups, such as the Core and Rural areas, will not require policy area transit accessibility tests. For those areas requiring transportation tests, trip generation rates have been updated to reflect current land use patterns and travel behavior. In addition, trip generation rates can be adjusted based on reduced parking.

A new system for evaluating local area transportation conditions has been proposed. It does not rely solely on critical lane volume to determine traffic flow, but rather focuses on other tools, such as Synchro, vehicle miles traveled and non-auto driver mode share rates.

Transportation impact taxes will be directed to the geographic area where they are being collected for the Core policy areas and may be adjusted to better incentivize reduced parking.

Schools Policy Updates

In revising the Subdivision Staging Policy, planners worked to more thoroughly assess the adequacy of school facilities and more accurately account for the impact of new development.

The Public Hearing Draft of the Subdivision Staging Policy recommends a hybrid annual school test combining cluster utilization tests with new individual school capacity deficit tests to determine adequate school capacity. The tests are used to determine those school clusters with inadequate capacity overall as well as whether individual schools greatly exceed the capacity for which they were built.

Depending on the level of adequacy, school facility payments may be required for each new housing unit built, or a development moratorium could be enacted.  The draft policy also proposes a system to regularly update the school facility payment formulas to better keep up with the latest student generation rates and school construction costs.

The new policy would limit the impact that school placeholder projects have on calculating school capacity for the annual school tests. Such placeholders currently allow development to move forward and school facility payments to be collected by adding just enough unplanned capacity to prevent a cluster from entering a moratorium. The Public Hearing Draft proposes limiting the use of placeholder capacity to two years to ensure that real capacity improvements are actually being built, not just appearing in a budget document.

The new policy proposes to calculate school impact taxes to reflect the latest student generation rates and school construction costs. Data from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) containing student addresses and grade-level information (stripped of any confidential information) are combined with Planning Department parcel data on the type of residential structure associated with every address in the County. The results are generation rates that reflect the actual location and housing structure of virtually every MCPS student.

The Public Hearing Draft also recommends reintroducing school facility payments and school impact taxes in former Enterprise Zones. The proposed policy would ease the transition by phasing in the collection of the impact taxes and facility payments.  It also recommends conducting further research to develop a new process for determining when an area of the County can be exempted from the impact taxes and facility payments.

Schedule of Subdivision Staging Policy Review

Planning Board work sessions to refine the Subdivision Staging Policy will continue each Thursday in June before the Planning Board draft of the policy is transmitted to the County Council at the end of July. The Council will hold its own work sessions and public hearing in the fall, before voting to adopt the revised policy in November.

Background on Subdivision Staging Policy
Planning staff is proposing new ideas in transportation and school capacity planning as part of revising the Subdivision Staging Policy, which is updated every four years. This quadrennial policy (formerly known as the Growth Policy) includes criteria and guidance for the administration of the County’s Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO), which matches the timing of private development with the availability of public services.

In the past, the APFO was designed to ensure that road and school capacity – as well as water and sewer and other infrastructure – kept pace with new development. Where new areas of the County were developed, infrastructure to support new homes and businesses was needed.

Today, much of the County has been developed. Growth is occurring through infill development and redevelopment, including the resale of homes in many of the County’s established neighborhoods. This type of growth creates pressure on transportation systems and school facilities; however, the current tools used to evaluate the impact of development may not adequately access these changing growth patterns and are being examined for their effectiveness and relevancy.

Jun 1 16

Update on County’s Bicycle Master Plan Will Be Part of Third Great MoCo Bike Summit on June 18

by Bridget Schwiesow

Bicycle Master Plan

Planners will explain the latest strategies for improving the County’s bicycling network at event

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will participate in the Third Great MoCo Bike Summit on Saturday, June 18, to be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the Council Office Building (Third Floor Hearing Room, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD). The event starts with a family-friendly group bike ride at 9 a.m., beginning at the intersection of the Bethesda Trolley Trail and Tuckerman Lane, and will proceed through Rockville to the Council Office Building.

The summit will focus on ways of incorporating next-generation bicycle facilities into the County’s transportation network. It is being organized by County Councilmember Hans Riemer with the participation of the Planning Department, County Department of Transportation and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

Beginning at 11 a.m., County planner David Anspacher will present an overview of the new Bicycle Master Plan and its focus on developing a high-quality network of cycling routes throughout the County. The Plan is considering the newest types of bikeways, such as separated and buffered bike lanes, and bicycle boulevards, as well as secure bicycle storage facilities at transit stations.

The network is being developed using an evaluation of the varying levels of stress imposed by traffic on cyclists along each roadway in the County. This information is being gathered through a digital, interactive bike stress map.

Find out more about the Bicycle Master Plan.

May 31 16

Montgomery Parks Hosts Grand Opening of Rehabilitated Historic Woodlawn Stone Barn for a Visitor Center and Cultural Destination

by Melissa Chotiner

Public is invited to the free celebration on June 11, 2016 for tours of the barn and carriage house as well as food, live music and activities.


SILVER SPRING, MDMontgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is hosting a grand opening to mark the rehabilitation of the historic Woodlawn Stone Barn at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park in Sandy Spring. The free event takes place Saturday, June 11, 2016 and will feature tours as well as activities, food and live music.


The rehabilitated barn and adjacent carriage house will now be open to the public as a visitor center. Both buildings feature exhibits showcasing aspects of Montgomery County’s history including the Underground barnRailroad, the Quaker experience, free Black communities in Montgomery County and the barn as a feature of the county’s agricultural landscape. The work has been done with minimal impact to the barn’s existing features to maintain the historic integrity of the building.


The project was funded with $2 million from the Maryland State Highway Administration (an Intercounty Connector Stewardship Project); $300,000 from State Bond Bills; $50,000 from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority, an instrumentality of the State of Maryland, and significant support from the Montgomery County Council through the Capital Improvement Program (CIP).


The work barn tourinvolved a careful restoration of the 1832 barn’s unique stone and timber construction and the installation of a dynamic audiovisual program. Voices and filmed imagery of Quakers, enslaved and free persons who lived and toiled on or near the property are projected onto interior stone walls creating a unique visitor experience. The carriage house will serve as the ticket office with introductory exhibits, retail and restrooms. The Underground Railroad Experience Trail that starts on the property will become unified with the entire Woodlawn Visitor Center experience.?


“The Woodlawn Stone Barn is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is a wonderful centerpiece in the bucolic setting of the historic Woodlawn Manor property and an incredible piece of local history.” said Mike Riley, Director of Montgomery Parks. “We look forward to having a place to tell important stories of this agricultural section of the county.  Thanks to the work of staff, designers, contractors, and members of the community who have helped bring this project to fruition, and thanks to all parties who have provided funding support. The project already won a 2015 Historic Preservation award from Montgomery Preservation Inc. for restoration of the barn and renovation of the site for educational use. We are thrilled to open this beautiful property to the public.”


Montgomery Parks intends to work closely with Montgomery County public schools and other nearby school jurisdictions to make the Woodlawn Stone Barn Visitor Center a great place for school field trips.


“We have an important opportunity to share the rich history of this area,” said Shirl Spicer, Museum Manager for Montgomery Parks. “It’s exciting to incorporate many different elements in this project–from the rehabilitation of the existing structure to multimedia exhibits—to bring these stories to life, and teach people what it was like nearly 200 years ago right here in Montgomery County.”



About The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Montgomery Parks

Montgomery Parks manages more than 36,000 acres of parkland, consisting of 417 parks. Montgomery Parks is a department of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), a bi-county agency established in 1927 to steward public land. The M-NCPPC has been nationally recognized for its high quality parks and recreation services and is regarded as a national model by other parks systems.


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May 26 16

Rodolfo Machado of Boston Firm Honored with 2015 Design Excellence Award Gave Urban Design Presentation on May 25

by Bridget Schwiesow

machado collage

Renowned Argentina-born architect explained the award-winning design of the Silver Spring Civic Building and similar projects undertaken by his firm Machado Silvetti

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, held its first annual Design Excellence Award competition in 2015, giving the top prize to the Silver Spring Civic Building at a design celebration last October.

The architect who designed the award-winning civic building, Rodolfo Machado, FAIA, talked about the logic of its spaces and the design process employed in other projects undertaken by his firm Machado Silvetti at a public presentation on Wednesday, May 25, 2016. The Planning Department-sponsored event was attended by about 60 people and held in the Silver Spring Civic Building.

View the video recap here.

During his lecture, Machado explained how architecture can relate to its surroundings to strengthen a neighborhood, a campus or a city. He presented past and recent designs, including a new mixed-use complex in Cairo, Egypt and the Center for Asian Art at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida.

Second Annual Design Excellence Award

The second annual Design Excellence Award competition has been launched and submissions are due by July 21, 2016 at 5 p.m. The selection of a winner will be made by an outside jury of accomplished professionals invited by the Planning Department.

Submit to the second annual Design Excellence Award here.

Learn more about the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Design Excellence initiative.

The winner will be recognized on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at an awards celebration at the Silver Spring Civic Building. The event will also include the annual awards ceremony of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Potomac Valley Chapter.

About Rodolfo Machado

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, architect Rodolfo Machado is a citizen of the United States, where he has resided since 1968. Machado received his Diploma in Architecture from the Universidad de Buenos Aires in 1967 before studying urban design at the Centre de Recherche d’Urbanisme in Paris. In 1971, he received a master of architecture degree from the University of California at Berkeley where he continued doctoral studies in architectural theory.

Machado practiced architecture in San Francisco and Pittsburgh before forming a practice with Jorge Silvetti in 1974. Since 1986, he has been a faculty member of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design where he chaired its Department of Urban Planning and Design from 2004 to 2009. Machado has been a visiting critic at many schools of architecture in this country and abroad, and has served as a juror for many national and international competitions and prizes. His drawings and projects have been extensively published and exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. For more information, go to

About the Design Excellence Award

The Planning Department’s annual Design Excellence Award was launched in 2015 to recognize the best examples of architecture, landscape architecture and urban design in the County, and increase awareness of the importance of design excellence. More than 35 entries to the competition were submitted in August 2015 by architects, developers and property owners. The winning entry and citations were chosen by an outside jury of accomplished professionals in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture and urban design, and presented at a design celebration in October 2015 co-sponsored with the Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.