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Dec 3 15

ULI Washington Panel Recommends Strategies to Revitalize Rock Spring and White Flint 2 Office Parks at December 2 Workshop

by Bridget Schwiesow

white flint imageRock Spring Logo rev 2ULI revised

Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel helped ongoing planning efforts for Rock Spring and White Flint 2 areas by suggesting land uses, amenities, multi-modal access

Silver Spring, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, partnered with the Washington, DC District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to conduct a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) review from Tuesday, December 1 through Wednesday, December 2, 2015. The event, titled “What’s Next for the Rock Spring Office Park and the Executive Boulevard area in White Flint,” was held at 6110 Executive Boulevard in Rockville.

“These areas are so important to Montgomery County from the standpoint of economic development and jobs,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “That’s why we wanted to draw on the expertise of a ULI Washington technical assistance panel to provide recommendations as we continue the planning process for Rock Spring and White Flint 2.”

The workshop included site visits, roundtable discussions and a presentation of findings from a multi-disciplinary team of real estate and land use experts who are members of ULI Washington. The panelists suggested ways of making the two office parks in North Bethesda more economically competitive and vibrant. These office districts, located less than two miles apart in the Rock Spring and Executive Boulevard areas, are now being studied by the County Planning Department as part of its ongoing planning efforts. The Rock Spring Master Plan and White Flint 2 Sector Plan will consider new land uses and zoning, along with potential enhancements to public facilities, open spaces and transportation.

View the powerpoint of the ULI Washington Technical Assistance Panel presentation from December 2.

View the video of the ULI Washington Technical Assistance Panel presentation from December 2.

Challenges of Rock Spring and Executive Boulevard Areas

The primary challenge in both locations is the high office vacancy rate. The Rock Spring office park has a vacancy rate of 21.2 percent and the Executive Boulevard office park within the White Flint 2 area has a vacancy rate of 29.2 percent, compared to Montgomery County’s overall office vacancy rate of 14.8 percent (according to CoStar statistics).

Each office park contains three completely empty buildings. A major tenant in Rock Spring, Marriott International, has announced tentative plans to relocate to a more walkable, transit-served and mixed-use setting. Experts on the panel pointed out that high office vacancy rates are not unique to Montgomery County; they are evident all over the country. In response, many communities are successfully developing strategies to deal with the changing office market.

The ULI panelists also focused on challenges related to the lack of community identity in both locations. They emphasized the absence of amenities, such as coffee shops, lunch venues, gyms, and drug stores, within the office parks; the lack of pedestrian access and connectivity to offsite amenities; and the need to diversify land uses, since currently there is only a single land use – office – in the two areas.

TAP Recommendations for Executive Boulevard Area

During the report-out on December 2, the ULI experts presented strategies for transforming the office parks. Their recommendations for the Executive Boulevard area of White Flint are:

-Accelerate implementation of the north/west Pike & Rose Metrorail station entrance.

-Implement the planned Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard realignment (called the Western Workaround).

-Improve pedestrian connections to amenities, such as those at Pike & Rose, and the existing White Flint Metrorail station.

-Leverage and link to the White Flint recreation loop for walking and biking.

-Introduce Bikeshare as a multimodal connector.

-Introduce convenience retail for office workers and future residents, including coffee shops, cafes, drug stores, dry cleaners.

-Decrease perceived distances between office building entrances and the street by encouraging small retail spaces, pop-up amenities (food trucks, parklets) and outdoor seating.

-Embrace and enhance the ample green spaces, including mature trees and landscaping, already present.

-Leverage and link the Executive Boulevard office park to Pike & Rose’s identity.

-Create a consistent signage and streetscape package to reinforce new identify for office parks.

TAP Recommendations for Rock Spring Area

The experts organized their comments according to the major challenges of identity, connectivity, amenities and land use as follows:

-Draw on the theme of “live well” by building on existing medical tenants and green environment of Rock Spring.

-Create an anchor for wellness/central community uses and a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented environment.

-Improve entry points by creating gateways through artwork, signage and archways.

-Provide a shuttle to the Metrorail station and enhance pedestrian and bike connections to Westfield Montgomery Mall – which the panel viewed as a major amenity for the area.

-Enhance transit rider knowledge through technology tools.

-Introduce Bikeshare stations.

-Break up superblocks of office buildings with mid-block crossings for pedestrians.

-Concentrate communal amenities (community center, library, civic functions) in a central location.

-Create a centrally located mixed-use village center, possibly including a library and arts facilities.

-Leverage existing green spaces by building a trail network, seating, and open spaces.

-Catalyze development of the approved, mixed-use Rock Spring Center project.

-Change zoning to eliminate constraints, allow maximum land-use flexibility and make the area market-responsive.

-Explore creative approaches to school overcrowding in the area, such as adding another school on or adjacent to the Walter Johnson High School site, reusing an office building for a school and/or building a new school within the Rock Spring office park, possibly on an existing surface parking lot.

-Use financial tools to achieve goals, such as tax abatement and tax-increment financing; special assessment taxing districts to accelerate infrastructure improvements; County acquisition of vacant and underperforming offices buildings to spur changes in use; and public-private partnerships.

-Create buy-in for real estate changes through community education.

Many of these recommendations will be considered by County planners in developing the new Rock Spring Master Plan and White Flint 2 Sector Plan. The Plans will guide and encourage the transformation of the office parks, and recommend facilities and policies needed to support new uses.

For more information about the Rock Spring Master Plan, go to www.montgomeryplanning.org/rockspring

For more information about the White Flint 2 Sector Plan, go to www.montgomeryplanning.org/wf2

About the ULI Technical Assistance Panel

The objective of ULI Washington’s Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) program is to provide expert, multidisciplinary advice on land use and real estate issues facing public agencies and nonprofit organizations in the Metropolitan Washington Region. Drawing from its extensive membership base, ULI Washington conducts one and one-half day panels offering objective and responsible advice to local decision-makers on a wide variety of land use and real estate issues, ranging from site-specific projects to public policy questions. The TAP program is intentionally flexible to provide a customized approach to specific land use and real estate issues. Learn more at http://washington.uli.org/TAPs.

The panelists for the Rock Spring and Executive Boulevard areas were:

Bob Eisenberg, Chair, Clark Enterprises

Robert Atkinson, Davis Carter Scott

Dean Bellas, Urban Analytics

Brigg Bunker, Foulger Pratt Development

Barbara Byron, Fairfax County Office of Community Revitalization

Matt Klein, Akridge

Alex Rixey, Fehr and Peers

Rebecca Snyder, Insight Property Group

Stan Wall, HR&A Advisors

About The Montgomery County Planning Department
The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, aims to improve quality of life by conserving and enhancing the natural and built environment for current and future generations. The Planning Department creates great communities by developing master plans, reviewing applications for development and analyzing various types of information to help public officials plan for Montgomery County’s future. The Department comprises 140 staff members and provides recommendations, information, analysis and services to the Montgomery County Planning Board, the County Council, the County Executive, other government agencies and the general public. Visit www.montgomeryplanning.org.

About ULI Washington
ULI Washington is a district council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a nonprofit education and research organization supported by its members. Founded in 1936, the Institute today has more than 30,000 members worldwide representing the entire spectrum of land use planning and real estate development disciplines working in private enterprise and public service. As the preeminent, multidisciplinary real estate forum, ULI facilitates the open exchange of ideas, information and experience among local, national and international industry leaders and policy makers dedicated to creating better communities.

ULI’s mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. ULI Washington carries out the ULI mission locally by sharing best practices, building consensus, and advancing solutions through educational programs and community outreach initiatives.

 

 

Nov 23 15

New Development Database Tool Launched by County Executive, Planning Department and Montgomery Business Development Corporation

by Bridget Schwiesow

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New digital tool allows residents and businesses to learn about new development projects and promote their communities in the County

Silver Spring, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has helped the Office of the County Executive launch a new online tool in partnership with the Montgomery Business Development Corporation for tracking the progress of development in the County. Called the Development Database, this digital resource builds on existing digital information about planned and projects under construction. Its introduction was announced at a press conference held on Monday, November 23 in the County’s Executive’s Conference Room in Rockville.

“Montgomery County has made tremendous investments in making our community more attractive, walkable and vibrant, even during the worst economic downturn,” said County Executive Ike Leggett, “because quality of place is essential to attracting businesses and talent.”

The web-based portal allows users to visually explore proposed, approved, under construction and recently completed development projects in Montgomery County. The Database lets residents see what is planned in their communities and enables businesses to easily gather information about development in the pipeline to help with investment decisions.

“This tool represents a collaborative effort to promote development in the County and draw attention to the new, sustainable designs being built in our communities,” said Casey Anderson, Chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board. “It provides an easy, accessible way to understand the quality of growth in the County.”

County officials can use the tool to promote the diversity and robustness of Montgomery’s real estate market. This mapping tool consolidates information from multiple County data sources and provides user-friendly descriptions, as well as photographs of the projects. As a “living” resource, the database will be continuously updated as new projects are proposed, approved and built.

“Supporting economic development efforts in the County is a priority for the Planning Department,” said Planning Director Gwen Wright. “This Development Database tool is an example of our commitment to make doing business in the County as user-friendly and transparent as possible.  It is exciting that we were able to collaborate with our County partners to further this goal.”

“The Development Database is an innovative tool that our business community can utilize to gather current, relevant and data-driven information concerning significant real estate development projects in Montgomery County.  Additionally, the Database is a great marketing tool to attract prospective developers and corporations considering investment in our community,” said Robby Brewer, Chair of the Montgomery Business Development Corporation.

The new database can be accessed at montgomerybusiness.org/developmentdatabase. It complements the Planning Department’s digital Development Activity Information Center (DAIC), launched in 2005. DAIC, already an indispensable tool, provides the public a reivew timeline and document access related to the latest development projects. Now, with the enhanced Development Database, the public will have access to project narratives and photos, providing a more user-friendly experience.

The new Development Database enhances DAIC by providing more descriptive information about future projects. The database makes it easier to track construction projects in the pipeline and understand the extent of development throughout the County.

Nov 3 15

Book on Midcentury Modern Architecture in Montgomery County Unveiled at Writer’s Center on October 30

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Hardcover and paperback books documenting County’s mid-20th-century landmarks and neighborhoods can be purchased online

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, hosted a launch party for the new book, Montgomery Modern: Modern Architecture in Montgomery County, Maryland, 1930-1979, on Friday, October 30 at The Writer’s Center (4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD). The 250-page, well-illustrated book is written by Clare Lise Kelly, a preservation planner and an architectural historian with the Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office.

Montgomery Modern reflects Clare’s commitment and passion for preserving the recent past. The book features significant landmarks from the period – with plenty of photos – as well as biographies of the architects responsible for them,” said Planning Director Gwen Wright. “We are dedicated to raising awareness about this era in our County’s history and in historic preservation.”

About 100 people attended the book launch event, which was sponsored by the Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office. Kelly spoke about her research and writing about the County’s midcentury modern architecture and signed copies of the book.

A video recap of the event is posted online.

“I’ve been researching historic sites for 25 years now and advocating for their preservation, and Montgomery County has one of the strongest preservation programs in the country,” said author Kelly.  “The post-war era is a time period that has been little understood and we are raising awareness about the value of buildings in this time period.”

Copies of the book can also be purchased online: a hard cover copy costs $65 and a paperback costs $55.

About Montgomery Modern
The publication of Montgomery Modern: Modern Architecture in Montgomery County, Maryland, 1930-1979 and the book signing event are part of the Historic Preservation Office’s award-winning Montgomery Modern initiative to educate the public about the architectural heritage of Montgomery County. This preservation program has included a bus tour, bike tour and other outreach events dedicated to the wealth of mid-century modern architecture in the County. Learn more about the Historic Preservation Office’s Montgomery Modern initiative.

Montgomery Modern: Modern Architecture in Montgomery County, Maryland, 1930-1979, written by M-NCPPC senior architectural historian Clare Lise Kelly, provides the historic context for modern architecture in Montgomery County, Maryland, from its first appearance in the 1930s through the 1970s. Richly illustrated with images by DC photographer Carol Highsmith, period photographs and architectural renderings, the book is organized by building types set within four main time periods.

Biographical sketches of practitioners (architects, landscape architects, developers, planners) are included, as well as an inventory of key projects, including buildings and subdivisions. Montgomery Modern is intended to raise awareness about the significance of modern architecture and the fragile nature of the built environment from the recent past.

Oct 23 15

Montgomery County Planning Department’s First Annual Design Excellence Award and Citations Announced at Gala on October 22

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Silver Spring Civic Building awarded top honor at Celebrate Design event co-sponsored with AIA Potomac Valley Chapter

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, announced the winners of its first annual Design Excellence Award competition at the Celebrate Design reception, held on Thursday, October 22 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Silver Spring Civic Building (1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD).

Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal and Councilmembers Nancy Floreen and Hans Riemer presented the top award and citations, along with Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson. Keynote speaker Christopher Leinberger, a real estate expert and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, made the business case for design excellence.

“The Design Excellence Award is intended to inspire architecture, landscape architecture and urban design of the best possible quality in Montgomery County,” said Planning Director Gwen Wright, who introduced the evening festivities. “This is only one of several initiatives we are undertaking to raise the bar for development and attract residents and businesses to the County. Design excellence is becoming increasingly important as the amount of available land for development is shrinking and densities in our centers are increasing.”

The evening event drew about 200 design professionals, county officials and residents. It was co-sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Potomac Valley Chapter and included that organization’s awards presentation.

The Design Excellence and Citation Award winners are:

Design Excellence Award Winner: Silver Spring Civic Building, Silver Spring, MD. Designed by Machado and Silvetti Associates, Boston, Massachusetts.

“A great collaboration between architecture, landscape architecture and urban design,” said the jurors of this design in the heart of Downtown Silver Spring. “This is a beautiful example of how the public sector can lead quality modern design. It is a great example of how to make a place.”

Jury Citation Winners:
Cultural Arts Center at the Montgomery College Takoma Park, Silver Spring, MD. Designed by SmithGroup JJR Architects, Washington, DC.

“This project raises the bar for design of local, publicly funded colleges. It’s an iconic anchor of the Montgomery College campus on busy Georgia Avenue,” noted the jurors.

Eleven55 Ripley, Silver Spring, MD. Designed by Shalom Baranes Associates, Washington, DC.

“This was a challenging site to develop and the buildings bridge a pedestrian-friendly scale to a tall apartment building scale,” said the jurors. “The high quality of the architecture can be seen throughout, from the strong fenestration and balcony patterns down to the brick coursing.”

Somerset Pool House, Somerset, MD. Designed by McInturff Architects, Bethesda, MD.

“This sensitive design of a community facility addresses landscape, architecture and excellent place-making within the context of adaptive re-use,” said the jurors.

Ruppert Nurseries Headquarters, Laytonsville, MD. Designed by Muse Architects, Bethesda, MD.

“This sensitive and innovative approach to a commercial facility retains the essential agrarian character and scale of this area of Montgomery County,” noted the jurors.

Learn more about the 2015 Montgomery County Award winner and Jury Citation winners for the Montgomery County Planning Department’s First Annual Design Excellence Award

About the Design Excellence Award Jury

The Design Excellence award jury met on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 to review the 38 projects entered into the competition and make an independent decision about the winners. Projects were submitted by architects, developers or property owners. The projects had to be located within Montgomery County, occupied and in use, and completed within the past 10 years in order to be eligible. The jury comprised four accomplished professionals in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, planning and urban design, who were invited by the Planning Department:

Edward Feiner, FAIA | Design Leadership Council Director, Perkins + Will, Washington, D.C.
Dhiru Thadani, FCNU | Architect and urbanist, Washington, D.C.
Michael Vergason, FASLA | Principal, Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, Alexandria, Virginia
Amy Weinstein, FAIA | Principal, Esocoff & Associates/Weinstein Studio, Washington, D.C.

Review the bios of the jury

About the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Annual Design Excellence Award:
Established by the Montgomery County Planning Department, this annual award seeks to recognize exceptional work in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design that improves the neighborhood’s physical, ecological and social context. The winners represent built projects that enrich and contribute to the greater community, and confirm how physical design leads to greater health, economic opportunity and environmental sustainability. This award is an opportunity for building projects to be seen widely, particularly in business and professional settings where the best qualities of Montgomery County are promoted by the County Council, Planning Board and Planning Department staff.

Oct 21 15

Latest Update to Subdivision Staging Policy Discussed at Public Open House

by Bridget Schwiesow

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County growth and infrastructure issues presented at October 19 meeting

Silver Spring, MD The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has started to update the Subdivision Staging Policy (formerly called Growth Policy) for review and approval by the County Council in 2016. The intent of the Subdivision Staging Policy is to ensure public facilities, particularly schools and roads, are adequate to meet the needs of new development and growth.

View the short recap video from the October 19 Subdivision Staging Policy Open House.

View the Overview presentation from the October 19 Subdivision Staging Policy Open House.

“The update to the Subdivision Staging Policy is one of our most important initiatives,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “This effort happens every four years and lays the groundwork for how our County can grow and thrive.”

A public forum addressing the policy update was held on Monday, October 19 at the Montgomery County Planning Department. The open house was attended by about 35 people. Planners provided an overview of the Subdivision Staging Policy and answered questions about infrastructure and growth, particularly with respect to school capacity. Also in attendance were County Councilmember Marc Elrich and members of the Montgomery County Public Schools and Department of Transportation.

The session builds on the Infrastructure Forum held in March 2015 that was co-sponsored by the Planning Department and County Councilmember Roger Berliner to address issues and concerns associated with schools and transportation.

Next steps include a presentation to the Planning Board in December 2015 about possible changes to the Transportation Policy Area Review (TPAR) guidelines.

Background on Subdivision Staging Policy:

The County’s Subdivision Staging Policy is revised every four years. Planners are currently researching new ideas in transportation and school capacity planning to help them revise the regulations to make them as useful as possible in managing growth in the county. The policy update will first be presented to the Planning Board in May 2016 for comment. This quadrennial 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 growth. 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. This type of growth creates pressure on transportation systems and school facilities. In updating the Subdivision Staging Policy, staff will evaluate whether the existing methodologies effectively account for these changing growth patterns.

Sep 10 15

Planning Director Gwen Wright to Present Strategies for Retrofitting the Suburbs at Smart Cities Week Conference

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Wright will join Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner on September 15 at Washington Convention Center for discussion of recent, fine-grained planning efforts

Silver Spring, MD – Gwen Wright, Director of the Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will present recent strategies for retrofitting the suburbs on September 15 at the Smart Cities Week conference at the Washington Convention Center.

Wright will focus on transit-oriented development in established, inner-ring communities, such as Bethesda and Silver Spring, as well as how similar, mixed-use, walkable development is being planned for areas without immediate access to transit, such as Westbard and Rock Spring.

“As Montgomery County grows and becomes denser and more populated, the need for strategic, well designed infill will become paramount,” says Wright. “Our recent plans focus on retrofitting the suburbs with new infrastructure, affordable housing, open space and places to work, shop and play, all within a 10-minute walk. We are taking this approach for Metro-accessible communities as well as for places where Metro is a bus ride away.”

Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, who represents the Potomac-Bethesda area, will join Wright to participate in the Smart Cities session. He will focus on the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan for North Bethesda and its implementation thus far in development projects such as Pike & Rose.

About Smart Cities Week:
Smart Cities Week, held in Washington, DC from September 15 through 17, 2015, is North America’s first conference and exhibition focused on holistic, integrated approaches to sustainable urban places. Developed by the Smart Cities Council, an educational group, the event highlights best practices for breaking down barriers to progress and instilling a culture of collaboration —solutions that public officials can use to improve livability, workability and sustainability in their communities.

Aug 27 15

Montgomery Planning Countywide Bicycle Master Plan Meetings Start in September

by Bridget Schwiesow

Bicycle Master Plan

The public is invited to five meetings across the County during September and October 2015 to learn about the details of the Bicycle Master Plan and provide feedback

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is launching its Bicycle Master Plan with community meetings in September so the public can learn more about the goals and methods of this Countywide effort.

The Bicycle Master Plan will consider 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 will be developed using an evaluation of the varying levels of stress imposed by traffic on cyclists along each roadway in the County.

The first public meeting will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on September 8 at Paint Branch High School (14121 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, MD). The second meeting will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Germantown Regional Services Center (Room A, 12900 Middlebrook Road, Germantown, MD).

Three subsequent meetings will take place during September and October in Silver Spring, Wheaton and Bethesda. The different locations allow County residents to pick the one that is most convenient for them so they can more easily participate in the planning process.

Each event will consist of a short presentation by County planner and project manager David Anspacher, followed by an opportunity to meet with Planning Department staff and learn about relevant topics, such as how traffic stress affects cycling and the state of bicycling in Montgomery County.

Attendees will also have the chance to contribute comments about bicycling safety and facilities they would like to see on an interactive “feedback map,” created for that part of the County associated with the meeting location. Community comments will be used to guide the planners during their work.

“These five meetings are intended to engage residents throughout the County and give them the opportunity to meet staff, learn about the plan and give feedback,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “I’m excited about new technology tools, such as interactive maps, that will help us plan new facilities so we can be one of the first suburban jurisdictions to comprehensively plan for bikes.”

Bicycle Master Plan Meeting Schedule:
All meetings will be held from 7 to 9 pm. Meeting RSVPs are encouraged but not required. Register to attend each of the Bicycle Master Plan Kick-Off meetings listed below.

Tuesday, September 8 – Meeting 1 at Paint Branch High School, 14121 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, MD. RSVP for Meeting 1.

Wednesday, September 9 – Meeting 2 at the Germantown Regional Services Center, Room A, 12900 Middlebrook Road, Germantown, MD. RSVP for Meeting 2.

Tuesday, September 15 – Meeting 3 at the Planning Department headquarters, 8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD. RSVP for Meeting 3.

Monday, September 21 – Meeting 4 at the Wheaton Library, 11701 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD. RSVP for Meeting 4.

Tuesday, October 6 – Meeting 5 at Walter Johnson High School, 6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, MD. RSVP for Meeting 5.

Bicycle Master Plan Background:

The official kickoff of the Bicycle Master Plan comes after planners participated in Councilmember Hans Riemer’s Second Great MoCo Bike Summit on Saturday, June 6 at the Silver Spring Civic Center. That event focused on ways of incorporating next-generation bicycle facilities into the County’s transportation network and included participation by Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson and the County Department of Transportation.

At the summit, County planner David Anspacher presented an overview of the new Bicycle Master Plan and its focus on developing a high-quality network of cycling routes throughout the County.

In addition to hearing the presentations, the approximately 100 attendees had the opportunity to provide written feedback on a large scale County map affixed to the wall of the Silver Spring Civic Center.  Attendees were asked to give comments on how the bicycle connections in the County could be improved. Those comments have now been included on an online map and will be considered by planners as work begins on the update to the Bicycle Master Plan. View the feedback map from the June 6 Bike Summit.

Questions or Comments?
Contact: David Anspacher, Planner and Project Manager
Email: David.Anspacher@montgomeryplanning.org
Telephone: 301.495.2191

Aug 26 15

Montgomery County Planning Department’s First Annual Design Excellence Award Program Celebration to be Held on October 22

by Bridget Schwiesow

revCelebrate Design invite

Developers, architects, landscape architects, designers, property owners and community members  are invited to attend the “Celebrate Design” reception and awards event at the Silver Spring Civic Building

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is inviting everyone with an interest in excellent architecture, landscape architecture and urban design to attend “Celebrate Design” on Thursday, October 22 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The winner of the Planning Department’s first annual Design Excellence Award competition will be announced during the celebration at the Silver Spring Civic Building (1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD). The event will also include the annual awards ceremony of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Potomac Valley Chapter. One of the highlights of the evening will be a presentation on the business case for design excellence by land use strategist Christopher Leinberger, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The Planning Department’s Design Excellence Award seeks to recognize exceptional work in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design that has been completed in Montgomery County over the past decade. More than 30 entries to the competition have been submitted by architects, developers and property owners. The goal of the awards program is to promote top-notch design and improve the quality of the built environment throughout the County.

The winner will be selected by an outside jury of accomplished professionals in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture and urban design:

Edward Feiner, FAIA | Design Leadership Council Director, Perkins+Will, Washington, D.C.
Dhiru Thadani, FCNU | Architect and urbanist, Washington, D.C.
Michael Vergason, FASLA | Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, Alexandria, Virginia
Amy Weinstein, FAIA | Principal, Esocoff & Associates/Weinstein Studio, Washington, D.C.

Review the bios of the jury.

Celebrate Design Awards Ceremony
Thursday, October 22, 2015
6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Silver Spring Civic Building (1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD)
Ticket price: $35
Purchase tickets

6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Opening  reception.
7:30 – 8:45 p.m. Awards presentation by the AIA Potomac Valley and the Montgomery County Planning Department.
Featured Speaker: Christopher Leinberger presenting on the Business Case for Design Excellence
8:45 – 9:30 p.m. Dessert reception.

Purpose of Design Excellence Award

The Planning Department launched its Design Excellence initiative in 2014 to inspire the highest quality of architecture, landscape architecture and urban design in changing areas within the County. In January 2015 as part of this program, the Department invited nationally recognized urban design and planning expert Noré Winter to discuss community design guidelines with the staff, Planning Board and public.

In June 2015, the Department launched its Design Excellence Award program to achieve the following goals:

-To recognize the best examples of architecture, landscape architecture and urban design in the County, and increase public awareness of this world-class design excellence.

-To promote built work that contributes to the creation of pedestrian-oriented, walkable neighborhoods that enrich and contribute to the greater community.

-To show how physical design can lead to greater health, economic opportunity and environmental sustainability.

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

 

Apr 27 15

Planning Board Tours Downtown Silver Spring to Advance Design Excellence Agenda

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Visit to housing, library and fire station underscores possibilities for improving quality of architecture and urban design throughout Montgomery County

SILVER SPRING, MD –  The Montgomery County Planning Board part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, visited several new buildings in Downtown Silver Spring on April 16, 2015 to gain a better understanding of how projects recently approved by the Board have come to fruition. In addition, the afternoon walking tour underscored the goals of the Planning Department’s newly launched Design Excellence initiative to elevate architecture and urban design in the County.

“The tour gave us the chance to see the impact of high quality design and the ways these new buildings fit into the fabric of the County,” said Planning Board Casey Anderson, who led the tour.

Also in attendance were Planning Board members Norman Dreyfuss, Natali Fani-González and Marye Wells-Harley, as well as Planning Department Director Gwen Wright, Deputy Director Rose Krasnow and Parks and Planning staff.

Tour stops included the new Fenwick and Eleven55 Apartments, Silver Spring Fire Station No. 1 and the Silver Spring Public Library, which is now under construction.

“It was gratifying to see these buildings come to be,” said Wells-Harley. “I now know what design excellence really means.”

The projects were selected for the tour based on their incorporation of key strategies promoted by the Design Excellence program and recent County Master and Sector Plans, as follows:

-Fresh, contemporary civic and residential architecture appropriate for urban-style density, as in Downtown Silver Spring.

-Proximity of affordable housing and community resources, as evident in the new Silver Spring Public Library.

-Low-impact, environmentally sensitive stormwater management areas integrated into landscaped open spaces and streetscapes, as realized at the Fenwick Apartments.

-Provision of a public park and connections to surrounding businesses and Metrorail, as in the Eleven55 Apartments development.

-Co-location of several public uses on a single parcel as in the fire station, which shares its site with a police substation, offices and community space.

View the video recap of the Board’s Design Excellence tour of downtown Silver Spring.

About the Design Excellence Initiative:
As one of the nation’s wealthiest and most educated counties, Montgomery County deserves neighborhoods, public spaces and buildings of the highest quality design to reflect this prosperity and maintain a competitive edge within our region. Design excellence is becoming increasingly important as the amount of available land for development in the County is shrinking and densities in our centers are increasing. These development challenges present a greater need to create attractive, safe and sustainable places to live, work and play.

In January 2015, the Planning Department advanced its Design Excellence Initiative by consulting with nationally recognized urban design and planning expert Noré Winter for three days. Winter met with planning staff about the creation and implementation of effective design guidelines and then presented many of these ideas to the Planning Board and community.

Next steps in continuing the Design Excellence Initiative include updating the Planning Department’s design guidelines process and creating an advisory panel of experts to consult with the Planning Director and staff on design-related decisions. Learn more about the Design Excellence Initiative: www.montgomeryplanning.org/design

Feb 5 15

Montgomery County Planning Director Gwen Wright Presents Plans to Rejuvenate Aging Suburbs on February 19

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Wright explains ways of achieving mixed-use, walkable communities at Biznow conference on suburban revitalization

SILVER SPRING, MD – Gwen Wright, Director of The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will present the County’s ongoing planning efforts at a conference to be held on Thursday, February 19 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center ( 5701 Marinelli Road, North Bethesda, MD 20852) from 7:45-10 a.m.

Wright will join local real estate developers and public officials at “Montgomery County – Revitalizing its Suburbs” to explain how the new County zoning ordinance and master plans encourage mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly and sustainable communities where residents can walk and bike to homes, stores, offices, parks and transit. She will highlight current plans for White Flint, Downtown Bethesda, Westbard and other areas to illustrate the ways in which suburban revitalization is being encouraged throughout the County.

The February 19 conference is sponsored by Bisnow and requires online registration.