By Natasha Fahim, Tsaiquan Gatling and Atul Sharma
How to design unique places Montgomery County residents will love for generations
Public places are the heart of any thriving community. It’s where we spend time with our family, meet our friends, and experience new things. Without great public places, a community lacks a sense of identity and pride. It is becoming more important that we emphasize creating successful public places, in order to support our communities, as the growth of technology enables many social activities to move from the community onto the internet.
Thrive Montgomery 2050 is a collective community effort to figure out – together – how Montgomery County can be a great community over the next 30 years. … Continue reading
A walk around Silver Spring reveals the need to make streets and sidewalks easier to navigate for people with mobility challenges
What if you had to experience a mobility challenge? Maybe you suddenly become injured and must use crutches or a cane or perhaps you have a life-long mobility challenge where rolling is the only option instead of walking. If that happens, you may start to notice that those sidewalks and crossings you took for granted are not so accessible. Places you could comfortably travel to are now a challenge or even impossible to reach.
You might be familiar with the Standards for Accessible Design, made enforceable by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), that are required for all … Continue reading
An independent panel of five experts chose the winners of the 2019 Design Excellence Awards competition
For the fourth time, the Design Excellence Awards will celebrate the best of the best in design throughout Montgomery County. Selections of the 2019 winners were made in July by an independent jury of highly skilled, nationally recognized design professionals from across various creative fields.
This year’s five judges come from all different facets of design and have worked on notable projects across our region, from the Wharf in Southwest DC to new hotel and office towers in downtown Bethesda. The jurors were selected by Montgomery Planning, but made their decisions independently of the agency.
This year’s Design Excellence winners will be … Continue reading
The 2019 awards will honor multifamily housing along with top-quality buildings, public spaces and landscapes in the county
Design excellence requires balancing the functional goals and artistic vision of a building, a space or a landscape to serve and inspire people. In Montgomery County, design excellence is about elevating architecture and urban design to make the mundane more compelling and create streetscapes and spaces that enhance human interaction in rural, suburban and urban settings.
Design excellence is becoming increasingly important in Montgomery County as available land for development is shrinking, densities in our centers are increasing and the need for attractive buildings, parks and public spaces. Quality design is now more urgent as competition for the best and brightest … Continue reading
In previous posts, I’ve discussed the economic challenges facing Montgomery County: stagnant wage growth, an aging workforce and increasing poverty. I’ve also highlighted our assets, including high incomes, low unemployment and a highly educated workforce. I’ve pointed out that high housing costs are the result of limited supply and that both businesses and residents of all ages prefer neighborhoods that look and feel “urban,” even if they aren’t located near transit or in major city centers. I hope that I have been successful in showing how and why real estate development is essential to economic development. In particular, the supply of housing (at every price point and including both subsidized/regulated projects and market-rate units) is crucial to attracting and retaining the mix of workers … Continue reading
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
In a Los Angeles park, hot pink benches and chairs play a vital role of respite and identity, revealing the transformative power of color
Grand Park – known simply as the “pink park” – is a 12-acre urban oasis in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. The park reopened in 2012, transforming a dreary government plaza into a spectacular community centerpiece. In a bustling urban setting where the park offers much-needed relief, color plays a key role in defining its identity and providing lessons for planners and designers of public spaces in Montgomery County.
The designers of Grand Park, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, expressed the multiculturalism of Los Angeles though the colors and textures of flora and fauna drawn … Continue reading
As our county continues to become more diverse, public art can fill a uniting role in bringing communities together
The Wheaton, Silver Spring and Bethesda Metro stations have pieces of public art that are hard to miss. The installation of Penguin Rush Hour (pictured above), Tunnel Vision or Beacon I will likely stop you in your tracks while you wonder: “How did this artwork get here?”
Penguin Rush Hour by artist Sally Callmer was originally created as a temporary public art installation at the Silver Spring station in the 1990s. However, the community united to raise money to repair the artwork and make it permanent. The penguins were so much a part of the community’s identity that Silver Spring … Continue reading
Planners presented cutting-edge concepts and projects through record five presentations at the 2018 National American Planning Association Conference in New Orleans
Montgomery Planning hit it big in the Big Easy. We were thrilled to present five sessions at the national American Planning Association (APA) conference, held from April 21 through April 23, 2018 in New Orleans. These presentations represent the most participation ever from our agency at this annual forum and we received great audience feedback about our ideas.
This year’s APA conference attracted about 5,700 planners, elected officials and planning junkies from across the country to learn about the latest trends and solutions to the challenges of land use, economic development, community revitalization and more (see photos of … Continue reading
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