Reimagining suburbs in the 21st century draws on the best of the past The communities that started the trend of 20th-century suburbanism shared a number of common traits. Many of them were focused on rail or trolley lines. Most had some retail uses in close proximity – corner stores or small retail blocks. They connected to nature through tree-lined curvilinear streets and small neighborhood parks and open spaces. Montgomery County’s earliest suburbs – Chevy Chase, Kensington and Takoma Park — all exhibit these features. As suburbs grew and the areas between the rail and trolley lines filled in with auto-centric swaths of single-family homes, some of the essential traits of the older, original suburbs were lost. Now, in the… Read more »
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… Read more »
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 »
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 »
ULI recently announced the finalists in its Urban Open Space Award competition and a local site is in the mix. I really love the Yards Park, for its re-use and upgrade of an abandoned resource–the Anancostia Rvierfront and for its design details. You can read more of our observations and see pictures here, but these finalists all embody features of good urban spaces. ULI is looking for spaces that “encouraged economic and social rejuvination in their neighborhoods” and these projects in Nashville, Vancouver, California, as well as DC incorporate urbansim into park design. They are places to watch other people–strolling. splashing, or sitting. People in cities take their energy from other people–whether it’s on sidewalks or in parks. These parks… Read more »
Casey Trees, a D.C.-based nonprofit, committed to restoring, enhancing and protecting the tree canopy of the nation’s capital, is sponsoring a “Conversation on Tree Risk” at their headquarters at 3030 12th Street NE. The conversation will be led by Keith Cline of the USDA Forest Service and will run from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. The event is free and you can get there via the Brookland-CUA Metro. Pick up a ticket here.
At a panel discussion in late October, where architect David M. Childs of SOM received the George White Award for Excellence in Public Architecture from the American Architectural Foundation, the notion of joy in planning came up. Amid discussions of floor area ratio, compatibility, function, and infrastructure, bringing up joy seems frivolous in the least, perhaps even foolish. Childs recalled that he and George White, the ninth Architect of the Capital between 1971 and 1996, proposed allowing ice skating on the reflecting pool, an idea that was quickly dismissed as not serious. But imagine the feeling of gliding between Lincoln and Washington. That stretch of city would become a place for people as well as a place for history. I love… Read more »
The District’s plan for eco-friendly redevelopment in Southwest Washington is a big one, but M-NCPPC environmental planner Tina Schneider points out that one of the plan’s small elements could apply in Montgomery County. Alternating tree panels with stormwater panels is a way to slow and filter run-off while enhancing streetscape. The County requires stormwater management treatment, but it’s often easiest to use methods that have already recieved approval than to try something new. And, let’s admit it, there’s a lot of competition for the limited right-of way space. We want to make room for bicycles, streetscaped sidewalks, and–oh yeah–cars. It can also be a challenge to thread a new drainage path among existing underground infrastructure. But other places have managed it–you can… Read more »
The Yards Park has already won a list of awards, but I’ve just discovered it. I can see why it’s won awards–there are so many things I love about it–the variety of spaces, the classic Holly Whyte bits of urbanism (movable chairs, touchable water, something to eat, people to watch), and its connections, running from Diamond Teague Park at National’s Stadium and through the Navy Yard, with a few bikeshare docks along the way.
Yesterday the Planning Board discussed a draft Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan (PROS Plan) that lays out a strategy to ensure access to open space for County residents: The purpose of the 2012 PROS Plan is to estimate the future needs for park and recreation facilities and natural, historic and agricultural resource preservation and to develop specific service delivery strategies to meet future needs through the year 2022 and beyond. This broad-ranging Plan covers traditional park and trail facilities on public and private land, but also delves into preservation and enhancement of historic, cultural, and agricultural resources. Like the recently created Parkscore system established by the Trust for Public Land, important parts of the PROS Plan are establishing: a… Read more »