Placemaking in Action

Posted by & filed under Design.

Two-day festival in October 2018 brings community members together to design and build a pop-up public space in the Randolph Hills Shopping Center

Planners have all heard the word “placemaking.” This term is often used in presentations, master plans and marketing pitches for development projects. The Montgomery County Planning and Parks Departments have invited several experts over the past year to discuss the potential of placemaking as a tool to improve, transform and celebrate local communities and cultures. Everybody seems to be talking about it as a good thing for our county.

But what does true, community-led placemaking look like? And how can communities actually DO placemaking?

To find out the answer, the Planning and Parks Departments invited residents … Continue reading

Eight Ways to Build a Better Urban Park

Posted by & filed under Design, Places, Planning, Public spaces.

New York City’s High Line park offers lessons for public space design in Montgomery County’s urban centers

More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas. Cities and urban-style environments will house two-thirds of humanity by 2050. Montgomery County is in sync with this trend as many of its communities, including Bethesda and Silver Spring, transform into urban places with higher densities.

As our planet urbanizes, interest in studying the effects of nature on the human mind and body is increasing. Growing evidence suggests that daily exposure to nature boosts our health, productivity and creativity. Children in particular benefit greatly from regular intervals of time spent in natural environments.

These positive results underscore the importance of … Continue reading

From Corporate Offices to Centers of Learning

Posted by & filed under Architecture, Design, Planning.

Changes in work patterns and population growth are leading to new types of schools

Walking past 8000 Jones Branch Drive in Tysons Corner, it is easy to assume that offices occupy this regular, three-story building. Entering its light filled atrium, however, does not reveal a corporate lobby or water cooler talk, but a gathering space where hundreds of chattering students dart between classes and engage in extracurricular activities. Welcome to Basis Independent School, a new type of center for learning.

Basis Independent is a private K-12 school that sits within the 120,000 square feet of this former Tysons Corner office building. This renovation project was designed by the DC architecture firm Perkins Eastman with Gilbane as the design-build partner. … Continue reading

The Future of Aging Office Buildings

Posted by & filed under Architecture, Planning.

Transit-served locations, less parking and affordability in urban centers are behind the successful recycling of offices into residences and other uses

Walking past the Octave 1320 on Fenwick Lane in Downtown Silver Spring, it is hard to imagine that not too long ago, this glimmering, 102- unit condominium housed vacant offices and a greasy spoon eatery in its basement. The transformation of the 10-story building, developed by Promark Real Estate Services of Rockville and designed by Washington, DC-based BKV Group, is impressive and likely to become the norm rather than the exception in Montgomery County’s urban centers. Several factors are influencing such conversions of aging office structures to other uses:

Our downtowns are mostly built up with high density … Continue reading

The Future of Self-Driving Cars

Posted by & filed under Planning.

Will they make urban communities more livable or extinct?

As you read this blog, a nondescript Toyota Prius is logging mile after mile on highways across California. And while it looks and travels like any other car, this vehicle is without a driver.

The autonomous Prius represents the relentless pursuit by researchers and corporations to realize the dream of self-driving cars. Google has clocked upwards of 1.5 million self-driven car miles. The 2017 Detroit auto show focused on test drives of self-driven vehicles and introduced the VW autonomous minivan of the future. It is only a matter of time before driverless vehicles become ready for mass adoption.

As is the case with most new technologies, various claims are being … Continue reading