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Montgomery Planning announces winners of the 2023 Design Excellence Awards

Design Excellence Awards logo year 2023
The Wilson & The Elm, ArtSpace Silver Spring, Pike and Rose, Marriott Headquarters, Good Hope Recreation Center win awards honoring the best in architecture and urban design in Montgomery County.

WHEATON, Md. – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), announced the winners of the biennial Design Excellence Awards competition at Celebrate Design 2023 held October 19 at M-NCPPC’s Wheaton Headquarters. An independent jury of accomplished design and development professionals honored two developments with Design Excellence Awards and three developments with Merit Awards that exemplify Montgomery County’s best architecture and building design. The Celebrate Design event was co-hosted by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Potomac Valley Chapter, which presented its Design and Leadership Awards.

“The M-NCPPC was honored to once again host the Design Excellence Awards which showcase the artistry and innovation shaping Montgomery County’s outstanding places and spaces millions of residents and visitors enjoy,” said Montgomery Planning Board Chair Artie Harris.  “This was an evening to recognize and celebrate the great achievements in urban design and architecture that help promote more residential and community-serving developments that support our wonderful downtown, suburban, and rural neighborhoods.”

“Promoting quality design in our buildings, landscapes, parks, and streets in an equitable and sustainable way is a major part of everything we do in Montgomery County and meets the goals established in our Thrive Montgomery 2050 general plan,” said Acting Montgomery Planning Director Tanya Stern. “Excellent design creates beauty and a sense of place in our communities and helps the public realm of streets and parks to be more inclusive and welcoming. Congratulations and thank you to all the winners whose thoughtful designs enhance the quality of life in our county.”

“This is the sixth Design Excellence Awards competition, and we couldn’t be more pleased with all the 2023 submissions and winners,” said Design Excellence project manager Paul Mortensen. “Great physical design matters and we are so appreciative of the healthy collaboration between architects and developers that leads to innovative projects that enhance the communities they serve. We also want to thank the AIA Potomac Valley Chapter for its continued support of this competition and the great achievements in architecture and design they help to promote.”

Montgomery County Councilmembers Evan Glass (At-Large), Andrew Friedson (District 1), Kate Stewart (District 4), Will Jawando (At-Large), and Natali Fani-Gonzalez (District 6) presented the awards to the winners at the ceremony.

2023 Design Excellence Awards Winners

urban skyline of tall buildings with The Wilson and The Elm at center.The Wilson and The Elm, from architect Shalom Baranes Associates and developer Carr Properties, won the 2023 Design Excellence Award for Building and Site Design, the night’s top honor. It is a high-density, mixed-use office and residential complex in downtown Bethesda, and jurors commented that the scaling of the towers and the distance between them for circulation and views is well done. The development still maintains light and air, and the above-grade parking and residential and office spaces are designed in a way that will allow for alternative uses over time making the building extremely resilient to changes in the economy. Described by the jury as a “tremendously complex development” The Wilson and The Elm includes shared parking, retail, a public outdoor plaza, and major underground public transportation infrastructure with links to the Metro Purple Line and Red Line and the expanded Capital Crescent Trail. Jurors concluded the “public realm of the streets and open spaces are the winners here.”

Artspace Silver Spring. four gray brick town homes each with yellow, white of gray siding on portion of structure

The winner of the 2023 Design Excellence Award for Exceptional Housing went to ArtSpace Silver Spring. Designed by architects BKV Group, with developers Artscape Projects, and partners JDC Construction, EveryMind, and the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the arts campus was redeveloped into what the jury describes as “unapologetically modern” artist studios attached to 68 affordable rental units and 11 affordable for-sale townhomes. The campus is anchored around 11,000 square feet of commercial space that was Silver Spring’s Third District Police Station until ten years ago; the jury noted the creative, adaptive reuse of the police station that blends the old with the new. The designers worked with the neighborhood to bring the building’s new personality to life using clean and bright colors mixed with metal materials. In this development, everyone wins.

Pike and Rose landscape plan. Paths through greenspace leading up to building entance.

The Pike and Rose landscape master plan was artfully created to support mixed-use development of offices, luxury living, retail and dining in North Bethesda, and it won the 2023 Design Award of Merit for Urban Design and Landscape. To achieve maximum use and comfort, landscape architect Clinton and Ries and developer Federal Realty Investment Trust added a central green that hosts concerts and festivals and is supported by flexible spaces and furnishings, beautifully landscaped streets, playful water features, and public art highlighting local artisans. The jury commented that Pike and Rose is the “perfect example of how communities should be designed around a very strong public realm.” People of all ages constantly shop, dine and stroll through the wonderfully lush neighborhood that offers a uniquely personalized, cozy experience along the landscaped streetscapes. Although relatively new, the highly articulated public realm of the streets allows Pike and Rose to look like it has always been there.

Marriott International Headquarters and Hotel. Path through greenspace alongside a glass building with retail at bottom level

Marriott’s new corporate headquarters in downtown Bethesda is the winner of the 2023 Design Award of Merit for Architecture and Urban Design. Developers Boston Properties and Bernstein Company, and architects Gensler gave a whole new look and feel to the company’s headquarters that moved from a suburban site to downtown in 2022. Not only does the two-building complex house the company’s international headquarters, but it serves the public with a hotel, a conference center, restaurants, and a vibrant through block public plaza. The jury loved the open plaza on the ground floor with its generous configuration and large storefront windows opening onto it. The “artful corporate lobby” shares views of the street and plaza while the hotel lobby and restaurant open to the grand space for public gatherings with seating for all.  The jury thought this is a “wonderful example of design impacting corporate culture for the betterment of the entire community.”

Good Hope Recreation Center. two story modern building with glass exterior on first story and flag poles outside

The 2023 Design Award of Merit for Architectural Design went to Good Hope Neighborhood Recreation Center in Silver Spring. Architect Sorg Design and developer Montgomery County Department of General Services redeveloped the old recreation center with a wonderfully detailed building that offers the surrounding community a wide variety of sports activities, children’s play areas and enrichment classes. It also serves as a performing arts venue. The form of the building along Good Hope Road strengthens community connections and dramatically improves equal access to the Center’s amenities. The jury noted the “beautiful minimalism and texture of the different materials” and the “simplicity of the design and the extraordinary quality of the details given the likely budget.”

More About the 2023 Design Excellence Awards

Montgomery Planning’s biennial Design Excellence Awards honor works that make a difference in people’s lives and represent Montgomery County’s highest quality of design to the region, state, and nation.

The selection of winners was made by an independent jury selected by Montgomery Planning comprised of nationally accomplished and highly regarded practitioners in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, planning and urban design:

About Design Excellence

As one of the nation’s most educated, diverse, and prosperous counties, Montgomery County desires neighborhoods, public spaces and buildings of the highest-quality design to reflect our cultural health and maintain a competitive advantage within our region. Quality architectural design that frames a thriving public realm of streets and public spaces is a driving force for complete communities. Design excellence is increasingly important as available land for development in the county is shrinking, densities in our centers are increasing, and priorities for excellent public spaces become more acute. These development challenges present a great need to create and enhance attractive, safe, and sustainable places to live, work, and play. Design excellence is an important tool for attracting the best and brightest to our county – residents, businesses, and visitors. To raise the quality of design throughout the county, the Montgomery County Planning Department has launched a comprehensive Design Excellence initiative focused on the themes of inspiration, collaboration, and clarity.