Over the last 20 years, Silver Spring has evolved from a DC suburb with blocks of stately single-family homes on lush green lawns to a lively and energetic city in its own right. Today it is a diverse downtown with a multi-modal transit center, office buildings, high-rise residential towers, restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, and a burgeoning night-time economy. With this transformation, the downtown residential population has nearly doubled from just under 7,000 people in 2000 to over 12,000 people who live in the downtown Silver Spring today.
This growth, which is largely attributed to the success of public and private investment and the 2000 Silver Spring Central Business District Sector Plan, has created several opportunities, but also some challenges. … 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
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:
Sometimes a parking lot lies between you and your heart’s desire – reaching the café to buy a frappucino, enjoying a quiet moment along a shaded stream, dropping by your favorite lunch spot. Or perhaps the car-choked lot is the gateway to your workplace.
Parking lots are rarely places of delight and walking through one often feels like being trapped in a nasty computer game.
Well, a couple of us who regularly advocate for squeezing every possible bit of walkability into communities decided to get our own house in order. Witness the bright new path through our parking lot at the Planning Department’s headquarters in Silver Spring.
This walkway connects the Woodside Park neighborhood to the north with Downtown … Continue reading
Who knew? Silver Spring was home to a pioneering robot. The TransfeRobot was an early standardized, off-the-shelf programmable robot, developed in 1958 and offered for sale in 1959. U. S. Industries started making the robots at 949 Bonifant Ave (more on that later). The firm quickly outgrew that building and moved out to the new Montgomery Industrial Park.
The sleek, modern building at 12345 Columbia Pike was designed in 1960 (architect unknown) and opened for production in 1961. It was originally called the USI Automation Center, and was operated by the Robodyne Division of USI. This is the front façade of the headhouse that faces Columbia Pike.
The TransfeRobot 200 could perform adaptable, repetitive tasks that made … Continue reading
On a busman’s holiday, I had a chance to bicyle around Palm Beach and noticed that, not surprisingly, the one percent get some pretty nice urban design.
But what is surprising is that whether you’re in the one percent or the 99 percent, the bones are the same. Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue was created very much the way Federal Realty does a Bethesda Avenue or Foulger Pratt does an Ellsworth Avenue.
Worth Avenue, Bethesda Avenue, and Ellsworth Avenue are all parallel or perpendicular to the main traffic artery. You get onto Palm Beach island via Royal Palm Way, a spectacularly landscaped boulevard with green median and four travel lanes. But make no mistake, shopping and strolling are a few blocks to … Continue reading
As a part of the Purple Line, Montgomery County will fund upgrades to the Capital Crescent Trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring. Tomorrow, the Planning Board will hear recommendations from its transportation planning staff about several issues facing the trail. After hearing testimony, the Planning Board will send recommendations to the Montgomery County Council.
The current design from the Maryland Transit Administration includes a number of improvements to the trail. The upgraded trail will be expanded to 12 feet wide, where feasible, and paved. Additionally, the trail will be extended from its current terminus at Lyttonsville 1.5 miles farther east to Downtown Silver Spring. New overpasses or underpasses will be provided over Connecticut Avenue, Jones Mill Road, 16th Street, … Continue reading
This year, Seaside is 30 years old and whatever you think of Andres Duany and the Congress for New Urbanism, any observer of urbanism must admit that Seaside has changed the vocabulary.
The pattern of main street, grid streets, mixed facades, and public space is part of every Federal Realty project and appears on our own Ellsworth Street.
Along Florida’s Gulf Coast, Seaside neighbors Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach, and the Watercolor resort have picked up the vocabulary and created a sense of place, community, and style along the coast road, 30A.
Duany etal have identified a fundamental human pleasure in strolling a certain type of built space, and have, most importantly, made that space marketable. From Seaside to Kentlands, … Continue reading
Whether it’s the Boundary Bridge that straddles Rock Creek right outside Silver Spring or the Cabin John Bridge nestled into Glen Echo, I love the bridges our region boasts. I’m no gephyrophobiac, bridges don’t scare me one bit. But there is one bridge that makes me uneasy–and no, it’s not the Tacoma Narrows— it’s the Downtown Silver Spring Library bridge. Despite the fact the Planning Board voted 8-1 against the bridge, it has once again become part of our local discourse. Here’s why I hope thisbridge wobbles into oblivion.
It’s been argued that the proposed bridge is the best and most economic way of achieving accessibility for all. Silver Spring already has a skywalk: the bridge that … Continue reading