Distinguished jury to choose 2023 Design Excellence Award Winners
Design excellence in architecture requires balancing the functional goals and artistic vision of a building or landscape to inspire people and support a great community—and, at every scale, it offers the power to help sustain our environmental, social, and economic vitality well into the future.
Montgomery County’s Design Excellence initiatives celebrate architecture and landscapes that make everyday life more beautiful and create spaces that enhance social interaction as well as fulfill specific functions. The annual Design Excellence Awards spotlight our county’s very best designs, and submissions are now open through July 17, 2023. Submit contenders for the two select Awards, one for outstanding Architectural, Urban Design and Landscape design, and … Continue reading
Many real estate analysts and pundits are arguing that offices are becoming obsolete, thanks in large part to workers’ continued post-pandemic demand for hybrid or fully remote work schedules. If this trend persists, planners must grapple with the question: What happens to the vacant space? In this blog, we examine Montgomery County’s office-vacancy trends and the characteristics of highly vacant office space (which we defined as more than 50% vacant). We also look at the possibilities for redevelopment. While vacancy isn’t the only factor affecting possible redevelopment of office space, it is significant and the focus of this blog.
In just the past three years, office-space vacancy has increased dramatically in Montgomery County. Vacancy rates in … Continue reading
This content was originally posted as an opinion piece by guest contributor Miti Figueredo in Greater Greater Washington on March 28, 2023 and is posted to The Third Place with permission.
Around the country, some pandemic-era changes have been widely accepted and made permanent, while others have been abandoned or scaled back. On Thursday, March 30, the Montgomery County Planning Board held a public hearing on whether to keep a half-mile road diet on Little Falls Parkway or end the closure of two lanes to car traffic that made space for walking, biking, and play.
Testing out a road diet on Little Falls Parkway
Last summer, Montgomery Parks implemented a pilot project to study whether Little Falls Parkway … Continue reading
Montgomery Planning is working on their new Pedestrian Master Plan to be presented to the Planning Board this spring. One of the greatest books on walkability and the creation of safe streets is Walkable City: How Downtown can Save America One Step at a Time, by Jeff Speck. This entertaining, informative, and most relevant book celebrated its 10th anniversary this past year. To help achieve Montgomery County’s Vision Zero goals of eliminating pedestrian fatalities through safe streets, Speck’s book provides a vision for creating streets that are safe, comfortable to pedestrians, and interesting—the primary criteria that supports walkability.
In our cities, towns, and neighborhood centers, streets occupy between 20% and 45% of the land. In the … Continue reading
In the coming months, the Montgomery County Council plans to consider a historic amendment to the county’s Forest Conservation Law – the No Net Loss of Forest initiative. Montgomery Planning proposed the initiative in 2022 in consultation with forest conservation experts and stakeholders, and with Planning Board approval.
What is the History of the Forest Conservation Law and the No Net Loss of Forest Initiative?
Montgomery County is known for its accessible parks, peaceful green spaces, and wooded trails that support a high quality of life for humans and wildlife. Approximately 30% of Montgomery County is covered by forest – a point of pride for residents and visitors who reap its benefits every day. The county’s laws, plans, and … Continue reading
One of Montgomery Planning’s mantras of late has been this idea of turning “parking lots to places.” In other words, let’s make better use of underutilized developed land and transform it into something more vibrant with multiple uses for residents and visitors. Inherent in “parking lots to places” is the thought that the “easier” parcels to redevelop – like surface parking lots – will be developed first, given the complexity and time involved in redevelopment of sites with existing uses.
Turning a parking lot into a place is infill development, which takes place on vacant or underutilized developed parcels within an area that have access to existing services. Infill development is beneficial to … Continue reading
You don’t need to be a novelist to tell a great story; you don’t even have to be a great writer. Storytelling through architectural rendering is a centuries-old way of expressing the relationship between design and the construction of buildings in the world around us. Architectural renderings can also give context to our cultural understanding of places and can inspire visions of those places and our society into the future.
Several groups of graduate students at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation set out to tell an architectural design story to reimagine downtown Silver Spring. Professors Matt Bell and Georgianne Matthews guided students in the Graduate Urban Design Studio this past fall as they studied … Continue reading
Montgomery County, MD, is known for the diversity of its population, with places like Silver Spring, Gaithersburg, and Germantown regularly showing up on lists of the most diverse cities in the United States. The county is ranked 23rd in the percentage of people of color and 9th in the percentage of foreign-born population of the 49 counties in the United States with populations exceeding 1 million.
Montgomery Planning completed an Esri ArcGIS storymap on racial and ethnic changes in the county since 1990 using the race and Hispanic origin classifications defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. The first series of maps looks at changes for individual races and Hispanic ethnicity. The second … Continue reading
Today we introduce a new series of blog posts on the housing market in Montgomery County, a series we hope will address some misconceptions, and clarify Montgomery Planning’s position on how to address one of the county’s most difficult challenges: the high price and limited availability of high-quality housing to serve our county’s racial equity/social justice, environmental, and economic needs.
We thought it would be helpful to start this blog series by discussing Montgomery Planning’s position on housing and sharing some of the core tenets that guide our work program.
Montgomery County is a leader in housing policy, but we can and should do more. Montgomery County has long been a leader in … Continue reading
The conventional story about development and displacement goes something like this: new luxury housing gets built in a neighborhood, driving up rents for existing residents who then must leave to find less expensive housing elsewhere. To be sure, displacement does happen and it can be a serious problem, but our Neighborhood Change research shows that this conventional story of displacement doesn’t correspond to what is happening in Montgomery County. Specifically, the study shows that displacement of lower-income residents is not inevitable, and that where it occurs is not driven by new housing development. In fact, displacement is associated with the failure to build new housingin neighborhoods experiencing an increase in demand. Our … Continue reading