Montgomery County Planning Department Announces Winners of 2019 Design Excellence Awards Competition on October 17

October 17, 2019

design excellence award 2019
The Glenstone Museum in Potomac and The Pearl apartments in Silver Spring win top county awards at event held with AIA Potomac Valley at the Amp at Strathmore at Pike and Rose in North Bethesda

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, revealed the winners of its biannual Design Excellence Award competition at “Celebrate Design,” held on Thursday, October 17 at Amp at Strathmore at Pike and Rose.

Glenstone, the private museum in Potomac designed by New York-based Thomas Phifer and Partners, won the top honor for architecture and site design. “The minimalist architecture and restrained materials, composed with great detail, frame the contemporary art and landscape around the building,” noted the awards jurors. “The simple building masses and layering of concrete blocks are reminiscent of historic stone quarries. This cultural destination is a true gift of beauty to Montgomery County and the region.”

The Pearl, a 296-unit luxury apartment building in Silver Spring, was awarded the special prize for Excellence in Housing Design. Design Collective of Baltimore designed the 14-story Pearl for the Tower Companies of Rockville. “The building fits calmly into the surrounding neighborhood and creates a sensitive transition between single-family homes and a new mixed-use urban district,” said the jurors.

In addition, two Jury Citations for Design Excellence were announced. The Unisphere, designed by Ewing Cole of Philadelphia, won a citation for sustainable design. This energy-efficient building on the Silver Spring campus of United Therapeutics is a net zero design, meaning it generates as much, if not more, thermal and electrical energy as it consumes. “This building is an encyclopedia of environmental sustainability,” said the jurors. “Solar panels and screens not only generate electricity, they are integral to the physical form of the building.”

A jury citation for neighborhood school design was given to the Westbrook Elementary School renovation and addition in Bethesda. Muse Architects of Bethesda expanded the 1930s building and updated the design of the interiors, while the school remained fully occupied throughout construction.

“Many schools try to do too much,” the jurors remarked. “This design is restrained and well done, and will help to change lives into the future.” The jury also stated that “Unlike some newer schools in the county, this building is a beautiful focal point to the surrounding neighborhood.”

The Celebrate Design event on October 17 both featured the winners of the Planning Department’s biannual Design Excellence Award competition and the annual awards given by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Potomac Valley Chapter, which co-sponsored the event. A highlight of the evening was a presentation on design excellence and community design through housing by DC real estate developer Martin Ditto.

About the Montgomery County Design Excellence Awards

The award competition is part of the Planning Department’s five-year-old Design Excellence initiative to improve the quality of Montgomery County’s built environment through design review, design guidelines, master plans and programs. The Planning Department’s Design Excellence Awards recognize exceptional work in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design that has been completed in Montgomery County over the past decade. More than 30 entries to the 2019 competition were submitted by architects, developers and property owners. The winning entries and citations were chosen in July 2019 by an independent jury of accomplished professionals in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture and urban design:

Hilary Bertsch, AIA | Principal, Perkins Eastman, New York, NY
Sheila Brady, FASLA | Principal and vice president, Oehme Van Sweden, Washington, DC
Hazel Edwards, FAICP | Chair, Department of Architecture, Howard University, Washington, DC
David Schwarz, FAIA | Founder and chairman of David Schwarz Architects, Washington, DC
Robert Sponseller, AIA | Design Principal, Shalom Baranes Associates, Washington, DC

Review the bios of the jury.