A conversation with Montgomery Planning Director Gwen Wright on the newly renamed Josiah Henson Parkway
By Gwen Wright and Karen Blyton
On March 4, 2022, community members and government leaders witnessed history as street signs were installed one week after the Montgomery Planning Board approved a resolution to rename Montrose Parkway in honor of the Rev. Josiah Henson. The new Josiah Henson Parkway in North Bethesda runs through the former plantation property of Isaac Riley, where Henson was enslaved for many years before escaping to freedom in Canada. Just a few blocks south of Josiah Henson Parkway is the Josiah Henson Museum and Park, which is also part of the Riley property and is operated by Montgomery Parks.
Henson, … Continue reading
By Casey Anderson and Jai Cole
Parks, recreation, and open space are the motherhood and apple pie of land-use planning and local government, with just about everyone agreeing on their value and appeal. But if you’ve ever been to a public meeting about a dog park or skateboard facility (or even a soccer field) you know that the consensus starts to break down when decisions are made about how parks and public spaces will be used and where the amenities to support them will be located.
Montgomery County has long been a leader in adopting forward-thinking policies to preserve land for parks, recreation, agriculture, and resource conservation. Thrive Montgomery 2050 builds on this legacy, partly by recommitting to state-of-the-practice … Continue reading
On February 17, 2021, Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) received word that the new 14-story Wheaton Headquarters building at 2425 Reedie Drive had officially obtained a LEED Platinum certification, the highest environmental status available from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). It is the first LEED Platinum government office building in the state of Maryland and will set a very high bar for sustainable development and stewardship throughout Montgomery County.
This building is a manifestation of Montgomery Planning’s goal of promoting design excellence and transit-oriented development with the most efficient and well-designed mixed-use buildings. We did not want “just a glass office building” but one reflective of our goals of inclusive public planning, nature, and parks … Continue reading
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
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
These requests were just a few of the comments captured by a graphic artist during the second community meeting for the Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan. Community residents and stakeholders were invited to the March 29 session to brainstorm the opportunities and constraints within neighborhoods along Veirs Mill Road, from Wheaton to Rockville.
Separated into small groups, the participants discussed the positive and negative aspects of their neighborhoods. They cited the need for future improvements, ranging from bus shelters to improved maintenance of sidewalks and roads.
Representatives from each group then shared highlights of their discussions with the larger audience. As they spoke, their feedback was recorded in words and pictures by graphic artist Lucinda Levine of Crowley … Continue reading
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 … Continue reading