Celebrate Design Excellence in Montgomery County

Posted by & filed under Architecture, Design, Planning.

Planning Department’s annual awards will be announced on October 19 The Montgomery County Planning Department is finalizing preparations for its third annual Design Excellence Award celebration on October 19, 2017 at the Silver Spring Civic Building. This event will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in conjunction with the American Institute of Architects Potomac Valley Chapter’s design awards program. This year, the Planning Department will recognize two top awards, one for excellence in architecture and urban design, and a second for great spaces and landscapes. More than 25 exceptional works of architecture, landscape architecture and urban design completed in Montgomery County over the past decade have been submitted for review in September 2017 by another outstanding independent jury of… Read more »

Bethesda zoning overlay – creating a better place through height and quality design

Posted by & filed under Architecture, Design, Planning.

Zoning codes literally shape our communities, governing the spacing of driveways, the number of spaces in parking lots, the heights of buildings, the placements of sidewalks, and the size of blocks along with the activities (or “uses”) allowed in each neighborhood. These codes determine whether we will live in a compact, walkable community or in a place where an automobile is needed to get anywhere.   Some codes have been found that date back thousands of years. Many European cities have been continuously coded since the 11th or 12th century, contributing to the character that makes these cities appealing today. These rules were created to govern the relationship between what gets built on private property and the public spaces around… Read more »

Garage Location Makes a Huge Difference in Community Livability

Posted by & filed under Design.

“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… Read more »

Enter the 2016 Design Excellence Award Competition

Posted by & filed under Architecture, Design, Public spaces.

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 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… Read more »

Architect Machado – All About Place!

Posted by & filed under Design.

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.     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… Read more »

The Third Place

Posted by & filed under Design, Public spaces.

Welcome to the re-introduction of the Montgomery County Planning Department Blog, now called The 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.     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… Read more »

Urbanism is Not a Four Letter Word

Posted by & filed under Design, Planning.

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.     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… Read more »