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Montgomery Modern
David Frey’s “Mad About Modern” in the new issue of Bethesda Magazine highlights mid-century modern design in Montgomery County, featuring modernist tract houses in Rockville, Wheaton and Bethesda. Three residences in the article are in Montgomery Modern tours—past and future!


 

Carderock Springs house (1963) Owners: Jonas Carnemark and Wendy Ann Larson
National Register Historic District
Architect: Keyes Lethbridge & Condon

Photos of Carnemark-Larson House, from our 2013 Montgomery Modern Bus Tour

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Carderock Springs house 3

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Hammond Wood House (1950) Owner: Michael Cook
Architect: Charles M. Goodman

Photos from our 2014 Montgomery Modern Bike Tour

Hammond Wood 1

Hammond Wood 2

hammond wood 3 hammond wood 4

 

Oak Spring House (1966) Owners: Mike Lecy and Kit Yeoh
Architect: Deigert & Yerkes

This house will be included in our tour of Oak Spring for this year’s bus tour, October 8, 2016. Stay tuned for registration information.

oak spring 1 oak spring 2 oak spring 3 oak spring 4

Congrats to these stewards of our mid-century modern heritage! For more on these houses, including outstanding photos by Michael Ventura, check out Bethesda Magazine, Sept-Oct 2016 issue. For information about the Montgomery Modern book, available in paper and e-book, go to www.montgomeryplanning.org/montgomerymodern.

 


Montgomery Modern explores mid-century modern buildings and communities that reflect the optimistic spirit of the post-war era in Montgomery County, Maryland. From International Style office towers to Googie style stores and contemporary tract houses, Montgomery Modern celebrates the buildings, technology, and materials of the Atomic Age, from the late 1940s through the 1960s. A half century later, we now have perspective to appreciate these resources as a product of their time.

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“If you design communities for automobiles, you get more automobiles. If you design them for people, you get walkable, livable communities.”
Parris Glendening – Former Governor of Maryland

“Our streets and squares make up what we call the public realm, which is the physical manifestation of the common good. When you degrade the public realm, the common good suffers.”
James Howard Kunstler – Writer, Urbanist

 

Studies throughout the country have drawn the same conclusions regarding the relationship between house and garage. Townhouses with garages placed inconspicuously at the rear of the property create better neighborhoods and generate greater economic value than townhouses with garages fronting the street.

 

Look at the townhouses in our region built over the past 20 years and it easy to see there is a huge difference. In rear-loaded developments, you see landscape and activity with people walking along streets, talking to neighbors and enjoying the environment around them. Front-loaded developments, on the other hand, are dominated by asphalt, devoid of walkers, and cars dominate the streets and driveways. The total lack of landscape is striking. They look exposed, old and weathered, even though the houses might only be 10 years old.

 

Rear-loaded townhouses in non-transit locations with a mix of housing types, such as those in Park Potomac and Kentlands, command significantly higher prices than at non-transit locations with a mix of housing types dominated by front-loaded units only.

 

These two very different visions have significant economic realities. In the best of conditions, one may moderately increase in value over time, but the other generates significant value even in slumping economies due to its positive impact on the greater public realm. You can feel the difference if you look closely.

 

Rear-loaded townhouses allow for nicer front stoops, landscaped front yards, street trees instead of driveways and few, if any, curb cuts at sidewalks to increase walkability. Chris Leinberger, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, has found that increases in walkability scores can command more than $300 per month in residential rent and more than $80 per square foot in residential sales prices.

 

Studies in Toronto indicate that street trees reduce mid-block auto crashes by 5 to 20 percent. Street trees also lead to savings in air-conditioning expenses during hot summer months by as much as 15 to 35 percent which dramatically affects affordability. Studies in Portland, Oregon indicate that houses with street trees added about 3 percent to the median sale price of the home.

 

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Front loaded townhouses are auto dominated and provide no amenity or encouragement to the pedestrian. They leave little to no room for street trees and look less inviting to visitors or owners. All of these elements reduce the economic value of this building type over time. In the end, the community loses.

 

Certainly, it is unrealistic to assume that every single townhouse developed in Montgomery County must be rear-loaded. Some sites have constraints that exclude any ability to access garages from the back of the property. But this should be the exception rather than the norm. The creation of housing must also be about the creation of great neighborhoods that are walkable and promote a thriving public realm. They must equally create value for the developer and greater community today and into the future. If not, we all lose!

 

This blog will illuminate many ways of creating extraordinary, well planned communities without losing the neighborhood elements of landscape and open space that we all cherish. We hope to stimulate creative insight, constructive thought and meaningful feedback. Stay in touch with The Third Place!

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Purple-Path-1

Painters Kevin Anderson and Luis Aguilar expertly applied two coats of each color. They made field adjustments to improve the design and laid out the pattern with chalk lines.

Sometimes a parking lot lies between you and your heart’s desire – reaching the café to buy a frappucino, enjoying a quiet moment along a shaded stream, dropping by your favorite lunch spot.  Or perhaps the car-choked lot is the gateway to your workplace.

Parking lots are rarely places of delight and walking through one often feels like being trapped in a nasty computer game.

Well, a couple of us who regularly advocate for squeezing every possible bit of walkability into communities decided to get our own house in order. Witness the bright new path through our parking lot at the Planning Department’s headquarters in Silver Spring.

This walkway connects the Woodside Park neighborhood to the north with Downtown Silver Spring to the south, and places in between – such as shops and our favorite lunch destinations. We created what we consider to be an art piece and not just a path.  It is painted a handsome shade of purple, carefully selected after weeks of color testing to be vibrant but not pushy – and to fit in with the pale brick and bright green foliage on our site.

The path also includes a wide, color-coordinated crosswalk that combines the big white stripes required by the County with bands of color in between that subtly shift between purple, green and orange.

Already, our new purple path and crosswalk are attracting couples with strollers, seniors, fellow workers, visitors to our building, people walking their dogs.

We want our path to inspire more paths through parking lots and more colorful crosswalks through driveways, so here are tips on how to add a path through your own parking lot.  It’s easy to do.  Especially if you own the parking lot yourself and don’t need to convince the owner to let you do it.

Here’s how we did it.  We created a design according to best practices in path design and parking lot design in terms of dimensions and visibility; researched types of paint and measured the area of coverage and number of coats needed.  We bought the paint at a local shop and did color tests (in the parking lot) – just like you would do at home choosing a color for your living room.  Granted, our colleagues thought we were crazy at the time but it paid off. We did end up with a very handsome purple and used an acrylic paint formulated for applications on concrete and asphalt.  It took two generous coats which took almost 50 gallons of paint.

Purple-Path-2b

Paint swatches allowed staff to evaluate two paint formulas and three different shades of purple. Custom green paint formulated by a local paint store and two shades of brick orange were tested on the purple background in both sun and shade.

How to make a colorful crosswalk.  Our crosswalk is on property owned and maintained by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT).  You must get their approval for a crosswalk project on the agency’s property.   We did that. We used the approved white paint, with highly experienced Parks Department painters, followed the approved dimensions and then added color.

The most important thing to know is that MCDOT is very, very busy and does not have time to add color or touch it up when it wears off.  Therefore, we recommend that you work closely with them and promise to maintain the colors in the crosswalk.  Our design was inspired by the work of Carlos Cruz-Diaz who is a Venezuelan-French artist of great acclaim. He has created crosswalks in major cities that play with color and time.

Remember to design for people, bikes, cars, trucks. No matter what you do, the design has to work!  You should design for good vehicular circulation, bikeways and pedestrian access.  We made sure that the required dimensions for drive aisles were maintained. We made sure that emergency access and loading areas were not compromised. We only added paint.

Pick your color palette carefully. Genuine traffic paint is the best since it is meant to be driven over, over and over again, but comes in limited colors. It is fine if you like white, yellow and red.  And don’t count on being able to mix the colors yourself to get variations. Pigments and color can be strange and mysterious, depending on the complex chemical make-up of the brew.

We also considered tennis court paint, but were not satisfied when we did our test swatch in the parking lot.  So we selected a less durable paint for concrete that let us fine-tune the color.  A good paint store specialist will also help you weed out colors that will fade over time in the sun.  We picked a vibrant green, but our adviser knew that it would not last in sunlight.  She custom-mixed a green for us using a yellow traffic paint base that will do better in the sun.

Plan for maintenance. There is no magic to paint on asphalt. It wears off – like gel nails do eventually. Really. Don’t be surprised when it happens. We have all seen what happens to plain vanilla crosswalks. Make a plan to return and refresh the paint.  We will let you know about our experience as it happens. Stay tuned.

Planning Board members re-create the iconic cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road Album on the newly painted art crosswalk leading to Downtown Silver Spring. Pictured left to right, Marye Wells-Harley as John Lennon, Amy Presley as Ringo Starr, Chair Casey Anderson as Paul McCartney and Natali Fani-Gonzales as George Harrison (Norman Dreyfuss not pictured).

Planning Board members re-create the iconic cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road Album on the newly painted art crosswalk leading to Downtown Silver Spring. Pictured left to right, Marye Wells-Harley as John Lennon, Amy Presley as Ringo Starr, Chair Casey Anderson as Paul McCartney and Natali Fani-Gonzales as George Harrison (Norman Dreyfuss not pictured).

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The Planning Department has launched its second annual Design Excellence Award competition. We are looking for exceptional work in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design that has been completed in Montgomery County over the past decade.

The Silver Spring Civic Building designed by Machado Silvetti won the 2015 Design Excellence Award. The jury commented on its absolute fusion of architecture, landscape architecture and urban design. This project was all about creating “Place.”

The Silver Spring Civic Building designed by Machado Silvetti won the 2015 Design Excellence Award. The jury commented on its absolute fusion of architecture, landscape architecture and urban design. This project was all about creating “Place.”

 The goal of the awards program is to promote outstanding design that improves the quality of the built environment in our county. By recognizing this work, the bar will continue to be set higher to further enhance the quality of community at all scales of development, from our urban centers to our rural reserves.

Award submissions are now being accepted through the Montgomery County Planning Department webpage through July 21, 2016. To enter, go to: www.montgomeryplanning.org/design/designaward2016.shtm

This year’s awards competition jury features highly regarded practitioners from Washington, DC:

Winner of a 2015 Jury Citation, the Eleven55 Ripley apartment tower is designed by Shalom Baranes and Associates with townhouses at the base to create a pedestrian-friendly scale and to activate the street. The jury also recognized the Silver Spring building’s rhythmic fenestration and balcony patterns.

Winner of a 2015 Jury Citation, the Eleven55 Ripley apartment tower is designed by Shalom Baranes and Associates with townhouses at the base to create a pedestrian-friendly scale and to activate the street. The jury also recognized the Silver Spring building’s rhythmic fenestration and balcony patterns.This year’s awards competition jury features highly regarded practitioners from Washington, DC:

  • Elinor Bacon of E.R. Bacon Development, who formerly headed the National Capital Revitalization Corporation and federal HOPE 6 housing program under HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo.
  • Shalom Baranes of Shalom Baranes Associates, winner of more than 120 national and regional architectural design awards, including last year’s Design Excellence Citation Award for Eleven55 Ripley apartments in Silver Spring.
  • Stephanie Bothwell, a town planner and landscape architect who co-founded the DC Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism.
  • Yolanda Cole of Hickok Cole Architects who has served as president of DC AIA and as a member of the advisory board of the Urban Land Institute’s District Council.

This year’s winners will exhibit the best qualities of architecture and design that promote sustainable, walkable places, and illustrate how quality design can contribute to the identity and value of a community. They will be publicized through public presentations and exhibits. So enter today!

 

Muse Architects’ Ruppert Nurseries headquarters in Laytonsville received a 2015 Jury Citation for its sensitive approach to retaining the agrarian character of this rural area. Offices occupy a renovated historic house and work sheds were arranged around a central parking courtyard.

Muse Architects’ Ruppert Nurseries headquarters in Laytonsville received a 2015 Jury Citation for its sensitive approach to retaining the agrarian character of this rural area. Offices occupy a renovated historic house and work sheds were arranged around a central parking courtyard.

 

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Montgomery Modern

 

John Joseph Earley was a local artisan who was an innovator of colorful concrete mosaic and a pioneer in prefabricated concrete construction. Earley implemented his earliest projects in Montgomery County and the Washington, DC region before this master craftsman’s work gained nationwide interest. [Note: see below for information about a tour of two of Earley’s DC projects.]

 

9900 Colesville Rd_CTerry 4-1993

Colesville Road houses, Polychrome Historic District

 

John J. Earley designed demonstration houses in Silver Spring made of his polychrome precast concrete panels. John J. Earley’s Polychrome Houses (1934–35), at Sutherland Drive and Colesville Road, Silver Spring have been called the birthplace of precast architectural concrete. This collection of five modernist houses with brilliant exterior polychrome walls was a prototype project for John Joseph Earley’s prefabricated concrete construction. The Polychrome Historic District is designated on Montgomery County’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation, and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Detail, 9904 Colesville Rd_CTerry 2-1996

Detail, Polychrome House concrete mosaic panel, John J. Earley

 

Earley’s signature concrete mosaic panels are composed of brilliantly colored stones. The Polychrome houses are embellished with Art Deco detailing of chevron pattern panels, decorative friezes, and accent blocks.

 

9900 Colesville Rd_CTerry 4-193

 

For this Colesville Road house, main panels are colored with pink-rose Oklahoma jasperite; pillars are of gray Potomac River gravel; under window panels are crushed cobalt glass; and the main frieze is crushed glass of red, black and gold.

 

Sutherland Dr_8-1999

 

Two-story houses on Sutherland Drive feature colorful patterned panels. These larger houses were early proof to skeptics of the suitability of this construction method for larger scale buildings.

 

The Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission recently approved an Eagle Scout project to install an interpretive marker in the Polychrome District celebrating Earley and his polychrome precast concrete houses.

 

Born in New York City, Earley moved to Washington, DC, as a boy and studied at St. John’s College. A fifth-generation stone carver, Earley developed the “Earley Process,” which became the basis for modern concrete panel construction. Though Earley died in 1945, his studio continued to operate, producing cast concrete panels and decorative mosaics until it closed in 1973.

 

North Chevy Chase church2

North Chevy Chase Christian Church (1961) 8814 Kensington Parkway

 

The Earley Studio designed a concrete mosaic panel for the front façade of John Samperton’s North Chevy Chase Christian Church.

 

1958 Concrete Panels Earley Studio (5)

Earley Studio, Design for Ornamental Panels, 1958, for North Chevy Chase Christian Church

 

North Chevy Chase church detail

Detail of the Earley Studio’s mosaic panels above the front entrance, North Chevy Chase Christian Church.

 

Tour of Earley’s Early Work

 

The Association for Preservation Technology and the DC Preservation League are sponsoring a tour of John J. Earley’s first projects in Washington, DC: the Shrine of the Sacred Heart (1922) and Meridian Hill Park (1914-1940) on Saturday, June 18, 2016.  Registration Info

 

Photographs: Polychrome Houses – Constance Terry and Carol Kennedy; North Chevy Chase Christian Church – Carol Highsmith.

 

For more information about John J. Earley projects in Montgomery County, see the book Montgomery Modern: Modern Architecture in Montgomery County, Maryland, 1930-1979 by Clare Lise Kelly (M-NCPPC, 2015).  www.montgomeryplanning.org/montgomerymodern

 


Montgomery Modern explores mid-century modern buildings and communities that reflect the optimistic spirit of the post-war era in Montgomery County, Maryland. From International Style office towers to Googie style stores and contemporary tract houses, Montgomery Modern celebrates the buildings, technology, and materials of the Atomic Age, from the late 1940s through the 1960s. A half century later, we now have perspective to appreciate these resources as a product of their time.

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The Montgomery Planning Department sponsored a lecture by Boston architect Rodolfo Machado on May 25 at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Machado and his firm Machado Silvetti designed the civic building and the Planning Department honored them in October 2015 with the first annual Design Excellence Award for this remarkable project. Experiencing the Silver Spring building with the architect on site and learning more about his design made the event even more special.

 

The Civic Building is the backdrop to Veterans Plaza. The large front elevation is the proscenium of the theater of the city. The red brick pathway in the middle of the allee of trees is on axis with the sidewalk of Ellsworth Drive and links the building and plaza to the rest of the city. The canopy to the right provides shelter for ice skating in the winter and concerts in the summer.


The Civic Building is the backdrop to Veterans Plaza. The large front elevation is the proscenium of the theater of the city. The red brick pathway in the middle of the allee of trees is on axis with the sidewalk of Ellsworth Drive and links the building and plaza to the rest of the city. The canopy to the right provides shelter for ice skating in the winter and concerts in the summer.

 

Machado creates buildings that are positively urban and of their place. Although he truly loves architecture, the Argentine-turned-American loves even more the places his architecture creates. A smile was on his face as he explained how civic buildings are about social interaction and the everyday messiness and chance encounters that great urbanism creates.

 

Machado’s designs are certainly innovative, but the innovation is based on a strong understanding of architectural history and context that informs all of his firm’s contemporary work. These designs also support and enhance their urban context.

 

The Silver Spring Civic Building and plaza are inextricable. The axis of the sidewalk along Ellsworth Drive extends through the plaza, into the building past an open courtyard, connecting to the residential neighborhood to the north. Each design gesture enhances the public realm of the city.


The Silver Spring Civic Building and plaza are inextricable. The axis of the sidewalk along Ellsworth Drive extends through the plaza, into the building past an open courtyard, connecting to the residential neighborhood to the north. Each design gesture enhances the public realm of the city.

 

The Silver Spring Civic Building exemplifies this contextualism in that the plaza is all about the building that faces onto it, yet the building itself seems to be all about the space and the axis of Ellsworth Drive. Building and plaza are inextricable. The sidewalk along Ellsworth continues through the building to connect the civic city to the residential district beyond. The interior courtyard providing bright natural light draws you in and provides sanctuary along the axial journey.

 

The Atelier development is made up of different color and sized masses that respond to the scale of the buildings adjacent to them. Metal panels cover a new iconic theater space which frames the new plaza to the right.


The Atelier development is made up of different color and sized masses that respond to the scale of the buildings adjacent to them. Metal panels cover a new iconic theater space which frames the new plaza to the right.

 

Another great project explained during the lecture was Boston’s Atelier 505, an expansion of the historic Cyclorama theater, the former home of the 360-degree painting of the Gettysburg battle during the Civil War. This new complex is a conglomeration of different buildings that responds to the various heights of surrounding historic buildings while still accentuating the original theater building. Each of the primary entries are placed on axis with adjacent perpendicular streets. A corner residential tower faces onto Berkeley Street to extend the high-rise core of Boston to the north. An iconic new theater element frames a new civic square to the south where it receives full sun exposure all year round.

 

Although contemporary in design, the tower building consists of typical classical components of a strong base, simple middle and a unique top. This tower anchors the southern end of Berkeley Street which extends north to the historic Prudential Tower; a Boston icon, and Back Bay which anchors the northern end of the street.


Although contemporary in design, the tower building consists of typical classical components of a strong base, simple middle and a unique top. This tower anchors the southern end of Berkeley Street which extends north to the historic Prudential Tower; a Boston icon, and Back Bay which anchors the northern end of the street.

 

Both of these projects take cues from the culture and character of their locations. They are responsive to the conditions of their sites while firmly related to the history of architecture and urban design. They are truly urban and the pedestrian and community are the real winners.

 

Machado Silvetti buildings are all about place. The iconic theater frames the space with an abundance of clear windows creating a relationship between theater patrons inside and pedestrians outside. The traditionally inspired red brick and large windows mimic the traditional warehouse buildings in the south end. This space has not only become the new hub of the Boston Center for the Arts, but it is a draw to the beautiful Shawmut neighborhood row houses to the south.


Machado Silvetti buildings are all about place. The iconic theater frames the space with an abundance of clear windows creating a relationship between theater patrons inside and pedestrians outside. The traditionally inspired red brick and large windows mimic the traditional warehouse buildings in the south end. This space has not only become the new hub of the Boston Center for the Arts, but it is a draw to the beautiful Shawmut neighborhood row houses to the south.

 

This blog will illuminate many ways of creating extraordinary, well planned communities without losing the neighborhood elements of landscape and open space that we all cherish. We hope to stimulate creative insight, constructive thought and meaningful feedback. Stay in touch with The Third Place!

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Welcome to the re-introduction of the Montgomery County Planning Department Blog, now called The Third Place.

 

The NoMa neighborhood in DC offers and expansive public realm of wide sidewalks with great places to see and be seen. Architecture, landscape, rain gardens, street furnishings and a diverse mix of workers and residents makes this a quintessential Third Place.


The NoMa neighborhood in DC offers and expansive public realm of wide sidewalks with great places to see and be seen. Architecture, landscape, rain gardens, street furnishings and a diverse mix of workers and residents makes this a quintessential Third Place.

 

In planning, the third place is the social realm separate from the home and workplace. It provides an inclusive forum for the dialogue and debate crucial for civic engagement and community building. This blog will pursue many of the principles, ideas and examples behind the Montgomery County Planning Department’s programs and initiatives. It is hoped that it will foster greater engagement with all our communities and residents. We welcome your ideas and feedback.

 

Birkdale Village outside Charlotte, NC. A vibrant public realm that engages the private realm of the shops, businesses and residences creates a safe and inviting environment for all.

Birkdale Village outside Charlotte, NC. A vibrant public realm that engages the private realm of the shops, businesses and residences creates a safe and inviting environment for all.

 

Many national surveys indicate that Montgomery County is one of the highest educated and wealthiest counties in the country. We cherish our natural assets and work to preserve our agricultural lands and historic resources. To do this while remaining competitive within the Washington, DC region, we must plan all places in a way that is commensurate to these high standards. Ultimately, we want to encourage future development and growth that supports a walkable, safe and vibrant public realm at the urban, suburban and rural levels.

 

Well-designed urbanism and even tactical, temporary urbanism that draws young and old alike, can make places great. Westlake Plaza in Seattle offers both in this thriving Third Place.

Well-designed urbanism and even tactical, temporary urbanism that draws young and old alike, can make places great. Westlake Plaza in Seattle offers both in this thriving Third Place.

 

This blog will illuminate many ways of creating extraordinary, well planned communities without losing the neighborhood elements of landscape and open space that we all cherish. We hope to stimulate creative insight, constructive thought and meaningful feedback. Stay in touch with The Third Place!

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Design Excellence is about urbanism! This does not mean turning Montgomery County into an expansion of Downtown Bethesda. It is more about raising the quality of life through the creation of better, more interconnected places to live.
 

Montgomery County has several great historic examples of urbanism, including Norfolk Avenue in Bethesda or East Diamond Avenue in Gaithersburg at the urban scale; Brookville Road and Taylor Street in Chevy Chase and Ridgewood Avenue in Bethesda at the suburban scale; and Grove Avenue in Washington Grove at the rural scale.

 

The single block of retail on Brookville Road in the suburban residential neighborhood of Chevy Chase, MD is walkable, mixed-use and active – Urbanism at its best!

The single block of retail on Brookville Road in the suburban residential neighborhood of Chevy Chase, MD is walkable, mixed-use and active – Urbanism at its best!

 
Peter Calthorpe, one of the founders of the Congress for New Urbanism and author of the book Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change describes urbanism as:

“I define the term urbanism broadly – by qualities, not quantities; by intensity, not density; by connectivity, not just location. Urbanism is always made from places that are mixed in uses, walkable, human scaled, and diverse in population; that balance cars with transit; that reinforce local history; that are adaptable; and that support a rich public life. Urbanism can come in many forms, scales, locations and densities. Many of our traditional villages, streetcar suburbs, country towns, and historic cities are “urban” by this definition. Urbanism often resides beyond our downtowns. While urbanism will vary by geography, culture, and economy, traditional urbanism always manifests the vitality, complexity, and intimacy that defines our finest cities and towns for centuries. By this definition, suburbs can be “urban” if they are walkable and mixed use…”

We hope that greater design excellence and better urbanism in the County will produce greater health benefits; greater economic value in our homes, properties and businesses; a more environmentally and economically sustainable way of living; greater social inclusion; a wider variety of housing types and affordability; less miles on the roads in cars and a dramatically reduced carbon footprint for everyone.

 
This change is not an intellectual planning exercise, but rather a positive movement to preserve our environment and meet the needs of young and old alike. Let’s make it happen.

 

With such a wide array of housing types from small lot - small house types to attached townhouses, to live/work units, to commercial buildings, all within walking distance, Kentlands was designed to promote diversity and walkability. Its intent is to foster a vibrant public realm through great urbanism.

With such a wide array of housing types from small lot – small house types to attached townhouses, to live/work units, to commercial buildings, all within walking distance, Kentlands was designed to promote diversity and walkability. Its intent is to foster a vibrant public realm through great urbanism.

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Montgomery Modern

 

Exuberant roof forms are a hallmark of mid-century modern architecture. In contrast to the simple gable roofs of traditional design, modernist architects employed a wide variety of inventive forms. The zig-zag roof of Sligo Elementary School was featured in a previous Montgomery Modern posting.

 

The soaring rooftop of the National Library of Medicine is a hyperbolic paraboloid concrete shell, designed by O’Connor & Kilham of New York. This distinctive feature represents concerns of the Atomic Age—in the event of a nuclear bomb blast, the centralized opening was intended to provide for pressure release.

 

National Library of Medicine (1962) Wisconsin Avenue, O’Connor & Kilham Carol Highsmith photograph, from Montgomery Modern book, page 112.

National Library of Medicine (1962) Wisconsin Avenue, O’Connor & Kilham Carol Highsmith photograph, from Montgomery Modern book, page 112.

 

The folded roof feature at Green Acres School provides visual interest and brings light into the central multi-purpose room.

Green Acres School (1958) 11701 Danville Drive; Davis, Brody, Juster & Wisniewski Courtesy: Davis Brody Bond

Green Acres School (1958) 11701 Danville Drive; Davis, Brody, Juster & Wisniewski Courtesy: Davis Brody Bond

 

In the hands of modernists, the vaulted roof became a swooping, low form. On his 1959 tour of the United States, Nikita Khrushchev praised the ultra-modern design of William Wurster’s Safeway grocery store in San Francisco. The distinctive vaulted roof became a hallmark for Safeway stores, including several in Montgomery County. A well preserved example from 1962 is in the Four Corners area of Silver Spring.

 

Safeway Store, 116 W. University Boulevard, Silver Spring (1962) Carol Highsmith photograph, from Montgomery Modern book, page 95.

Safeway Store, 116 W. University Boulevard, Silver Spring (1962) Carol Highsmith photograph, from Montgomery Modern book, page 95.

 

The A-frame roof was popular for weekend retreats, as well as churches and pancake restaurants. Still standing are A-frame International House of Pancakes (IHOP) restaurants in Takoma Park (1966) and Wheaton (1970).

 

The Washington Post, August 2, 1969

The Washington Post, August 2, 1969

 

An influential A-frame church design was Pietro Belluschi’s 1954 Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore. Montgomery County examples followed, including Chatelain, Gauger and Nolan’s St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, 1958; John Samperton’s Washington Grove United Methodist Church (1958) and North Chevy Chase Christian Church (1961); and Clifton White’s St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, (1962).

 

North Chevy Chase Christian Church (1961) 8814 Kensington Parkway, John S. Samperton Carol Highsmith photograph, from Montgomery Modern book, page 152.

North Chevy Chase Christian Church (1961) 8814 Kensington Parkway, John S. Samperton Carol Highsmith photograph, from Montgomery Modern book, page 152.

 

A butterfly roof rises up from the center like outstretched wings. The earliest known example of such a roof was Le Corbusier’s design for the Errazuriz House in Chile, designed in 1930. In the US, Marcel Breuer’s Geller House was built in 1945 on Long Island.1

In Montgomery County, the Burman House in Rollingwood has a 1951 butterfly-roof design by Charles Goodman. An innovative two-family example in New Hampshire Estates was built in 1952 by Polinger Construction Company.

 

Butterfly roof two-family house at 1041 Ruatan Street (1952). Architect unknown. Carol Highsmith photograph, from Montgomery Modern book, page 44

Butterfly roof two-family house at 1041 Ruatan Street (1952). Architect unknown. Carol Highsmith photograph, from Montgomery Modern book, page 44

 

The pavilion roof was a motif of the Aspen Hill Library, designed by John H. Sullivan, completed in 1967. An advantage of the modular composition is the opportunity for future expansion with additional wings.

 

Aspen Hill Library (1967), 4407 Aspen Hill Road, John H. Sullivan Carol Highsmith photograph, from Montgomery Modern book, page 171.

Aspen Hill Library (1967), 4407 Aspen Hill Road, John H. Sullivan Carol Highsmith photograph, from Montgomery Modern book, page 171.

An architectural form marking the advent of the postmodern era is shed style design that came out of the work of Charles Moore of the New Haven, CT-based architectural firm Moore, Lyndon, Turnbull, Whitaker (MLTW). The firm designed the Sea Ranch Condominium complex in Sonoma, CA, 1964. Inspired by vernacular buildings and local design traditions, with rustic paneled siding and simple detailing, shed style buildings feature a composition of single sloped roofs of varying heights, typically falling away from a central axis. A local example is the Stanley Tempchin House, which Charles Moore designed for a Bethesda art collector.

 

Stanley Tempchin House (1967), 7001 Crail Drive, Charles Moore of MLTW and Rurik Ekstrom Carol Highsmith photograph, from Montgomery Modern book, page 171.

Stanley Tempchin House (1967), 7001 Crail Drive, Charles Moore of MLTW and Rurik Ekstrom Carol Highsmith photograph, from Montgomery Modern book, page 171.

 

401 N. Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg

401 N. Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg

 

In recent years, modern roofs have been covered over as mid-century buildings are remodeled. The result is to obscure the important history of Montgomery County’s built landscape. And so our historic modern architecture lies dormant, awaiting a future restoration, and rediscovery of our mid-century architectural heritage.

 

Architectural historian Clare Lise Kelly is the author of the award-winning book Montgomery Modern: Modern Architecture in Montgomery County, Maryland, 1930-1979, published by the Montgomery County Planning Department in October 2015. The book includes additional information about projects mentioned above and other local examples.

 

1 Appreciation to Marni Epstein-Mervis for her discussion of butterfly roof projects at la.curbed.com

 


Montgomery Modern explores mid-century modern buildings and communities that reflect the optimistic spirit of the post-war era in Montgomery County, Maryland. From International Style office towers to Googie style stores and contemporary tract houses, Montgomery Modern celebrates the buildings, technology, and materials of the Atomic Age, from the late 1940s through the 1960s. A half century later, we now have perspective to appreciate these resources as a product of their time.

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Accomplished modernist architect Eason Cross died on January 28, 2016. A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Cross was a principal of Cross & Adreon, a firm known for modernist residential developments designed to harmonize with nature. Their projects received prestigious design awards when they were first built 50 years ago, and these communities have continued to receive recognition for being outstanding places in which to live. The work of Cross & Adreon was recently featured in David Frey’s “30 Great Neighborhoods” in the current issue of Bethesda Magazine (Mar/Apr 2016) (pdf).

Cross worked seven years in the offices of prominent local architect Charles Goodman, first as draftsman and later as associate architect. In this capacity, he designed houses in Hollin Hills where he became a resident, raised a family, and was a community leader. From Goodman, Eason learned that good architecture would benefit society and he followed Goodman’s example of striving to provide well-designed housing for a broad audience. Cross had earned a Masters of Architecture from Harvard (1951), where he studied under pioneering modernist Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School.

In Montgomery County, Cross & Adreon partnered with developers Matthews-Schwartz in bringing clusters of houses designed for nature, built into wooded hillsides and often adjoined parks or streams. Notable projects include Wynkoop Court, as well as projects in Mohican Hills and Bradley Park.

 

Bradley Park_8522 Whittier Blvd_CLKelly 2-26-2016 (8)

Wynkoop Court (1965) received an award for community design from AIA Mid-Atlantic Region and a design award from the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce. Thoughtfully sited houses stepped into the hillside are accessed by shared driveways, boardwalks, and stairways.

 

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Expansive windows bring nature into living space. Terraces and balconies extend living space into the wooded landscape.

 

Wynkoop-Barn-House_House&Home

The Wynkoop Barn House model received a 1966 Homes for Better Living award in a competition sponsored by the American Institute of Architects and House & Home. The compact 2,600 sf house contained six bedrooms and three baths on a small footprint with attic and basement.

 

WynkoopBarnHouse_House&Home_Oct1966 (10)

House & Home wrote, “There’s a regrettable tendency in the homebuilding industry to consider unusual, interesting design the sole province of the custom-built house, and to relegate the built-for-sale house to the so-called safe category of ordinary, sales-proven design.” In presenting a design award to the Wynkoop Barn House, House & Home found proof that the two markets can overlap from the standpoint of design. House and Home featured the Wynkoop Barn House in its October 1966 issue, photographs by Warren Ballard.

 

Mohican Hills_5508 5512 5516 Mohican Rd_CLKelly 2-26-16 (19)

On Mohican Road, in Mohican Hills, Cross & Adreon designed a cluster of seven houses for a steep, wooded site adjoining a park. Houses are connected with shared driveways.

 

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The Mohican Hills Square House received a House and Home award (1966). A rustic walkway meanders between the modernist houses.

 

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The walkway connects the community with the adjacent M-NCPPC Glen Echo Heights Neighborhood Park, established in 1960. Mohican Hills sold out two weeks before the scheduled opening.

 

Wiscasset Rd houses2

The architects carefully considered vistas from houses as they situated the buildings on sloping, wooded lots. This plan shows how viewsheds were orchestrated harmoniously for neighboring houses on Wiscasset Road. Dotted lines indicate the steep topography.

 

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Other projects include Bradley Park (1966), Whittier Boulevard, Bethesda, and Williamsburg Gardens (1974), Holbrook Lane and vicinity, Potomac. This Bradley Park model with clerestory windows won a 1967 award from AIA and House and Home.

The award-winning projects of Cross and Adreon are included in Montgomery Modern: Modern Architecture in Montgomery County, Maryland, 1930-1979. The book also includes a biographical sketch for Eason Cross in the Practitioners Appendix.

Info on Montgomery Modern initiative:
montgomeryplanning.org/montgomerymodern

Thanks to my colleague Joey Lampl who interviewed Eason Cross and consulted his papers, in her intensive research on Charles Goodman.

For more on Eason Cross, see his obituary from the Washington Post (pdf).

 


Montgomery Modern explores mid-century modern buildings and communities that reflect the optimistic spirit of the post-war era in Montgomery County, Maryland. From International Style office towers to Googie style stores and contemporary tract houses, Montgomery Modern celebrates the buildings, technology, and materials of the Atomic Age, from the late 1940s through the 1960s. A half century later, we now have perspective to appreciate these resources as a product of their time.