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Montgomery County Planning Department’s Second Annual Design Excellence Award and Citations Announced at October 20 Event

October 20, 2016

design award

Silver Spring Library awarded top honor at Celebrate Design event co-sponsored with Potomac Valley Chapter of American Institute of Architects

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, announced the winners of its second annual Design Excellence Award competition at the Celebrate Design reception, held on Thursday, October 20 at the Silver Spring Civic Building (1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD). The evening event was co-sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Potomac Valley Chapter and also included that organization’s awards presentation.

The 2016 Design Excellence Award was given to the Lukmire Partnership of Arlington, Virginia for the Silver Spring Library. Five jury citations were presented to the architects of The Music Center at Strathmore, Holy Cross Hospital Germantown, The Crest at Congressional Plaza, Somerset Elementary School and Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard (see details below).

One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation, titled “Design Excellence: Lasting, Comprehensive and Inspirational,” given by architect Edward Feiner, FAIA. Feiner is the Design Leadership Council Director of Perkins + Will and former Chief Architect of the United States General Services Administration, where he launched a design excellence program for federal architecture in the 1990s.

View the storymap of the winning projects.

“The Design Excellence Award is intended to inspire architecture, landscape architecture and urban design of the best possible quality in Montgomery County,” said Planning Director Gwen Wright, who led the evening’s festivities. “Design excellence is becoming increasingly important as the amount of available land for development is shrinking and densities in our centers are increasing, and it’s an important tool for attracting residents and businesses to the County. We want developers and architects to bring their A-game to our communities.”

The four-member awards jury, composed of architects, a developer and a landscape architect, met in September. They visited several projects and selected the winner and five citations, making their decisions independently from the Planning Department. The jurors noted that the winning projects present a range of large and small buildings in urban, suburban and rural settings – “great design with impact at every scale.”

Learn more about the Planning Department’s Design Excellence initiative.

Design Excellence Award Winner:

Silver Spring Library –  900 Wayne Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Architect: Lukmire Partnership, Arlington, Virginia

The awards jury called this civic building “a great gift to the community.” Located in downtown Silver Spring, the library opened in 2015 and integrates a sheltered outdoor space for a future Purple Line light rail station. “We loved the concept of the Purple Line breaking through the building to make a statement about the importance of public transportation, bringing the public to the library and to other public services,” said the jurors. The library’s embrace of urban vitality, proximity to affordable housing, high quality materials and visible display of indoor activity were cited by the jury as contributing to its success.

Jury Citation Awards:

The Music Center at Strathmore – 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD  20852

Architect: William Rawn Associates, Boston, Massachusetts

This regional cultural center was praised by the jury for its performance venue and educational programs, and being “ahead of its time” in inspiring development near the adjacent Metrorail station. The relationships among the Music Center’s historic mansion, concert hall and landscape, despite the challenging topography, were cited as strong, and the jurors appreciated the bridge connecting the parking garage to the building complex.  “This project showcases great design with compelling forms and regal facades, despite being constrained by a tight budget,” the jurors said.

Holy Cross Hospital Germantown – 19801 Observation Drive, Germantown, MD  20876

Architect: SmithGroupJJR, Washington, DC

The jurors were impressed by the forward-thinking partnership between the hospital and the adjacent Germantown campus of Montgomery College. They noted the contrast between the building’s crisp architectural design and the surrounding landscape, and the integration of gardens into the hospital to enhance the healthcare environment through nature. “This is a great example for other communities to emulate as health care becomes increasing critical,” the jurors said.

The Crest at Congressional Plaza – 1620 East Jefferson Street, Rockville, MD 20852

Architect: McInturff Architects, Bethesda, Maryland

The jurors called this apartment building a “small and mighty” design. Thoughtful renovations, including the addition of balconies, café and activity spaces, have “had a big and immediate impact on residents.” The jury cited the clear designations of public, semi-private and private spaces as supporting residents’ needs at each scale.

Somerset Elementary School – 5811 Warwick Place, Chevy Chase, MD  20815

Architect: Muse Architects, Bethesda, Maryland

“This is a great example of how to transform a school from a bland formula that could be located anywhere to a well-considered design that reflects and enhances its immediate community,” said the jury. The jurors appreciated the sensitivity of the school renovation and design to the residential neighborhood around it, particularly the building’s proportions, roofs and brick detailing. They noted that the front and back entrances are both treated as important to the overall design, another signal of respect for the neighborhood. “This is a comfortable and welcoming design,” they said, “It is well-suited to its context, turning an eyesore into a community asset.”

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard – 18125 Comus Road, Dickerson, MD  20842

Architect: Cunningham Quill Architects, Washington, DC

This transformation of rural farmland into a community gathering space and a tourist destination earned kudos from the jury for its “respectful response to vernacular architecture.” The new building’s simple forms and materials complement an existing barn and highlight the process of wine-making for the public. “The public space that ties the building together provides a place for people to enjoy the landscape over a glass of wine,” the jurors noted.

About the Design Excellence Award Jury:

The Design Excellence award jury met on September 14, 2016 to review the projects entered into the competition and make an independent decision about the winners. Projects were submitted by architects, developers and property owners. The projects had to be located within Montgomery County, occupied and in use, and completed within the past 10 years in order to be eligible. The jury comprised four accomplished, Washington, DC-based professionals in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, planning and urban design, who were invited by the Planning Department:

Yolanda Cole, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP, Hickok Cole Architects and Jury Chair

Elinor Bacon, ER Bacon Development
Shalom Baranes, FAIA, Shalom Baranes Architects

Stephanie Bothwell, FCNU, ASLA, Stephanie Bothwell Urban and Landscape Design

Review the bios of the jury

About the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Annual Design Excellence Award:
Established by the Montgomery County Planning Department in 2015, this annual award seeks to recognize exceptional work in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design that improves the neighborhood’s physical, ecological and social context. The winners represent built projects that enrich and contribute to the greater community, and confirm how physical design leads to greater health, economic opportunity and environmental sustainability. This award is an opportunity for building projects to be seen widely, particularly in business and professional settings where the best qualities of Montgomery County are promoted by the County Council, Planning Board and Planning Department staff.