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Montgomery County Planning Department’s Third Annual Design Excellence Awards and Jury Citations Announced at October 19 Event

October 19, 2017

Design Excellence Award Logo

Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring and Little Bennett Regional Park in Clarksburg awarded top honors; historic Silver Theatre and Shopping Center selected for Director’s Legacy Award

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, announced the winners of its third annual Design Excellence Award competition at the Celebrate Design reception held on Thursday, October 19, 2017 at the Silver Spring Civic Building (1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD). The evening event was co-sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Potomac Valley Chapter and included that organization’s awards presentation.

This year’s Design Excellence Awards honor both buildings and landscapes in Montgomery County that are currently in use and less than 10 years old. The top honors went to the expansion of the Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, designed by the SmithGroupJJR of Washington, DC, and the day use area of Little Bennett Regional Park in Clarksburg, designed by the Montgomery County Department of Parks. In addition, seven jury citations recognize four buildings and three landscapes for their high-quality designs.

View the 2017 Design Excellence Awards winners and jury citations.

Director’s Legacy Award

Planning Director Gwen Wright announced a special Director’s Legacy Award to honor the 90th anniversary of the M-NCPPC. The winner is the 1938 Silver Theatre and Shopping Center. This historic complex, once threatened with demolition, was selected by Wright to recognize an exceptional, enduring and transformative building in the county that is more than 10 years old and has had a positive influence on the public and community.

The Silver Theatre, now the American Film Institute (AFI) Silver Theatre, is an important example of art deco cinema architecture. For many years, this movie palace and the adjacent shopping center heralded the increasing stature of the suburban Silver Spring community in the region. The structures were added to Montgomery County’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation in 1994 and revitalized by Foulger-Pratt and The Peterson Companies to anchor Silver Spring’s revitalized downtown. Since reopening in 2003, they have become the heart of a thriving mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented center.

“We have broadened the Design Excellence Award program this year to recognize recent accomplishments in architecture as well as landscape architecture, and past achievements in architecture and preservation,” said Wright. “In addition, we have expanded the reach of the Design Excellence program through advancing clear and effective design guidelines for our plans and creating our first design advisory panel to help ensure good design as we implement the new Downtown Bethesda Plan. Design has increasingly become an important tool for attracting businesses and residents to the county.”

This year’s four-member Design Excellence Awards jury, composed of architects, a developer and a landscape architect, met in September 2017 to select the two winners and seven citations, making their decisions independently from the Planning Department. The jurors noted that the winners represent a range of project types in urban, suburban and rural settings.

“The skills demonstrated by our selections are of an extremely high caliber and also broadly cover various types of design — architecture, landscape, urban design, suburban repair, restoration and adaptive reuse,” noted jury chair John Torti, president of the Silver Spring architecture firm Torti Gallas and Partners.

Learn more about the Director’s Legacy Award.

2017 Design Excellence Award Winners:

Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring, MD

Owner: Holy Cross Health

Architect: SmithGroupJJR

The jury praised this building for its architectural form, orchestrated entrance procession, organization of rooms and illuminated corner tower. They admired its “grace and beauty” and how it provides a new landmark for travelers on the Capital Beltway. “The designers have given the community a tower of light that lets us know the hospital is there for us day and night,” said the jurors. “How could the most utilitarian part of a hospital campus become the most beautiful and elegant patient care facility? This project shows us how. It is an exemplary addition to our community.”

Little Bennett Regional Park Day Use Area, Phase 1, Clarksburg, MD

Owner/developer: Montgomery County Department of Parks, Park Development Division

Landscape architect and site engineer: A. Morton Thomas and Associates, Inc.

The Little Bennett Regional Park welcomes visitors with an overview of the natural and cultural interpretive opportunities of the park in its day use area. The first phase of this project includes convertible picnic tables, environmental art made of bamboo, a meadow restoration and a bioretention area situated next to parking. “The delicacy with which the Parks department and landscape architect executed their task is truly commendable,” said the jurors. “Their light touch and delicate restraint allow visitors to create their own vision of the natural world. This is a truly enchanting place.”

2017 Design Excellence Jury Citations:

Buildings and Sites

Greencourt Innovation Center, Rockville, MD

Owner: Greencourt LLC

Architect: McInturff Architects

“The design takes three warehouses and organizes them in a way to add a third floor and beautiful green spaces, creating an innovative, high-tech work environment,” said the jurors. “The green roof, clever re-use of existing structures and being within walking distance to Metro create the kind of place that makes people want to come to work in the morning.”

Pavilion Three, Montgomery College, Silver Spring/Takoma Park Campus

Architect: Cho Benn Holback and Associates, a Quinn Evans Company

“The original 1970s pavilion was a tour-de-force in its sensitivity to the neighborhood,” noted the jurors. “The transformation of this building improves it by adding detail and texture to the façades, and creating a friendlier, more engaging building. The stunning modern addition fits beautifully into one of the county’s most historic neighborhoods.”

The Gymnasium at National Park Seminary, Silver Spring, MD

Owner: Gymnasium at NPS, LLC

Architect: Carib Daniel Martin Architecture and Design, and Morris Architects

“This last restoration effort at National Park Seminary, once a prestigious girls school, houses a beautifully and cleverly designed set of unique condominium residences,” said the jurors. “The apartments fit into the rafters as naturally as if that was their intended use. This gymnasium has been brought back to life in a useful and dignified manner.”

Woodlawn Museum at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park, Sandy Spring, MD

Owner: Montgomery County Department of Parks, Park Development Division and Cultural Resources Stewardship Section

Architect: Miche Booz Architect

“This project exquisitely restores a stone barn and its adjacent carriage house for public use as a visitor center and museum at the Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park,” said the jurors. “The integrity of the original structures is preserved and the place recreated as an educational tool through multi-media exhibits interpreting the history of the local African American and Quaker communities.”

Open Spaces and Landscapes

Rockville Town Square Plaza, Rockville

Owner: City of Rockville

Master planner and designer: Street-Works Studio

Landscape Architect: Macris, Hendricks and Glascock

“This space does everything that a public square should do,” said the jurors. “It encourages activities such as sitting on the grass, splashing in the fountain, meeting friends, shopping, ice skating and Zumba dancing that are all about connection and community. The square is not only the symbolic center of Rockville, but its civic heart.”

Downtown Crown, Gaithersburg

Owner: Retail Properties of America, Inc.

Developer: JBG Smith

Architects: David M. Schwarz Architects and BCT Architects

Landscape Architect: Parker Rodriguez

“Seldom are the spaces between buildings given design attention, yet we are drawn to them in places like Georgetown and Bethesda where people come together to enjoy the vitality of urban life,” said the jurors. “Downtown Crown is a beautiful example of the urban architecture that delights the pedestrian. The careful orchestration of the facades creates a human scale and image of a city that was built over time.”

Evans Parkway Neighborhood Park, Silver Spring

Owner and developer: Montgomery County Department of Parks, Park Development Division

Landscape architect: Oculus

“Every neighborhood in Montgomery County should have a park as beautiful as this design,” said the jurors. “The centerpiece is the restoration of a stream valley that includes the demolition of a concrete channel and planting native vegetation. The combination of a natural landscape, public art and bridge, and family-oriented features make this design a model of neighborhood park-making.”

About the Design Excellence Award Jury

The Design Excellence award jury met on September 13, 2017 to review the projects entered into the competition and make an independent decision about the winners. Almost 30 projects were submitted by architects, developers and 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:

John Torti, Jury Chair, President, Torti Gallas and Partners, Silver Spring, MD

Andrew Altman, Co-founder of Fivesquares Development, Washington, DC

Jeff Lee, President and Founding Principal of Lee and Associates, Washington, DC

Suzane Reatig, Founding Principal of Suzane Reatig Architecture, Washington, DC

Review the bios of the jury.

About the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Annual Design Excellence Awards
Established by the Montgomery County Planning Department in 2015, this annual awards program 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. Learn more about Montgomery Planning’s Design Excellence program.

About AIA Potomac Valley 

AIA Potomac Valley is a local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the nation’s leading organization for design professionals. AIA Potomac Valley represents more than 550 architects and associates in the Maryland counties of Allegany, Charles, Garrett, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince Georges and Washington. The chapter’s mission is making a better environment through leadership in architecture.