Montgomery Planning asks community to help decide which artist will have a chance to paint their design outside of M-NCPPC’s Wheaton Headquarters

March 16, 2021

Orange brick wall with ladder and paint roller. Text: The Wheaton HQ Mural Project
Voting opens to the public today and will remain open until March 26

WHEATON, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), launched a design competition in the fall and is now asking the community to help decide which artist’s mural design should be painted outside of M-NCPPC’s Wheaton Headquarters (HQ). The public can vote online for their favorite design, which is meant to celebrate the character, culture, and history of Wheaton as well as the unique roles of the Montgomery Parks and Planning Departments, whose offices are in the building. Voting opens to the public today and will remain open until March 26.

Vote for your favorite design

Last fall, M-NCPPC asked artists to submit their concepts for The Wheaton HQ Mural Project. Out of 28 submissions, a jury of representatives from the local community, Montgomery Parks and Planning, and the Regional Services Center selected three of the most promising designs. These finalists each received a small stipend and submitted a color-sketched proposal to scale with a budget for completing the mural. Now, Montgomery Planning would like the public to weigh in on which finalist will have a chance to paint their design.

“We are excited to give an artist the opportunity to prominently display their work on our building and to the Wheaton community,” said Montgomery Planning Director Gwen Wright. “All three of our finalists have presented excellent designs that reflect the area’s unique culture. We now look to the public to help us decide which design should be turned into a mural.”

The mural, which will be funded through a generous donation from the private partner who helped to build the building, Stonebridge Development, will be located outside of the new, 14-story Wheaton HQ. This LEED Platinum building, which opened in August 2020 and is owned by M-NCPPC, is strategically placed in the heart of Wheaton’s Arts and Entertainment District and will be shared by over 900 M-NCPPC and Montgomery County government employees. The mural will be placed on the building’s north-facing concrete block wall, adjacent to an existing surface parking lot owned by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT), between Triangle Lane and Grandview Avenue.

The mural competition was open to artists 18 years of age or older who currently live and work in the Maryland / Washington, DC Metropolitan region. The selected artist will be required to negotiate an implementation contract with M-NCPPC based on contractual and budget requirements.

Vote now:

About the mural finalists’ designs

Learn more below about each of the final submissions in the artists’ own words.  The public will be voting on the following:

Artist #1

Artist #1 entry
This mural is a bold, colorful celebration of the fact that while we dance to our own beats, we all smile in the same language. We come from diverse multicultural legacies with unique perspectives and various abilities, but we each have an important gift to offer with our life.

The concept for this mural was inspired by the artist’s son who has Down syndrome and LOVES to dance. To see him dance—overcome with joy and the need to move his body to express that joy—is to know unequivocally that the most human thing we can do is to live fully alive! We dance for different reasons, in many different styles, but each dance is a tribute to the heart that beats in the chest of the dancer.

This mural will be situated in the heart of Wheaton, MD, a community bustling with businesses run by people originating from many rich cultural legacies. This wall therefore represents a unique opportunity to both encourage these diverse heritages to thrive, as well as to welcome pedestrians of all backgrounds to experience the magic of this vibrant neighborhood. All lives are enhanced and enlivened by interactions with cultures and traditions once foreign to us. These experiences point to our shared identity as people. This design is a celebration of Wheaton’s strength as an authentic, vivid collage of humanity as well as its deep roots and bright, evolving future.

Artist #2

Artist #2 entry
Influenced by the work and mission of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, ‘Inspire a Story,’ depicts the beauty of nature, community and history that is the City of Wheaton. It shows a multicultural community that celebrates the power of inclusivity, welcoming all to a place that values diversity, and respects traditions in the arts, business and lifestyle. This award-winning artist presents an original, vibrant drawing of their mural concept for your consideration.

The bright greenery of Brookside Gardens formed the theme of this colorful mural, set inside a shadow box and featuring a silhouette of the Wheaton skyline. Unlike digital renderings, the details in this freehand drawing appear to come to life with rich colors and key elements that capture the live-life spirit of people, culture and experiences that the city has to offer. The sense of community is at the heart of the piece. To the right, the calm of Mother Nature represents security and protection. The paper boat floating in the water embodies the popular theme, “we are all in this together!” The small details come together to create the big picture. For example, the ant symbolizes working in the community for the good of the people. The signature butterfly reflects the symbol of transformation and growth–an homage to the Wings of Fancy at Brookside Gardens. The mural reflects the history and fortitude of Wheaton, including the bleeding heart symbolizing the city’s fragility and renewal over the years.

The key symbolizes the welcoming spirit of the diverse community, an eclectic place where people from all walks of life feel at home. Bringing together the warmth of Mother Nature on the right, and the next generation on the left. The key also represents the inheritance of culture and storytelling. History and traditions continue, with the antique television lying flat, celebrating the first-ever television broadcast coming out of Wheaton in 1929. The geometric shape on top carries the Wheaton Triangle within the square. Further, the pattern behind is inspired by the Wheaton library.

Inside the complex multi-figure design of the mural, there are simple but necessary elements for artists in practice to work on. The duck, for example, represents the tranquility of the city. The sunbathing turtles and the snowy egret scurrying around the Chesapeake Bay are also ideal opportunities for young artists to learn about the mural process.

It is with great pride and honor that the artist presents ‘Inspire a Story’ to the Montgomery County Planning Department. It celebrates the character, sense of place, culture and history found in Wheaton, and within the Montgomery County Parks and Planning Departments.

Artist #3

Artist #3 entry
High in the sky sits the four directions sun, representing a unification of cultures. The heart of this star represents Central and South America. Lotus leaves and a sacred mandala comprise the sun’s rays, representing South and East Asian cultures. This symbol holds in great respect the traditions of generations of immigrants that reside in the community and honors Native American cultures whose presence continue to strengthen and enrich the landscape of this country.

At the bottom left is a trail home, highlighted by beautiful Ethiopian patterns. The centerpiece of homes and houses represent the early neighborhoods that made this city into what it is now. This thriving community is a product of a well-thought-out Parks and Planning Departments.

A monarch butterfly rests her wings on the rooftop. She symbolizes transformation and resilience. She is a beautiful balance of simplicity and strength. To her right, a bouquet of Ginger, Lotus, Jasmine and Lychee flowers blossom, paying homage to the Asian community and the rich fauna and flora of their homelands. These plants also celebrate Wheaton’s enchanting parks and trails.

The backdrop is an abstract flow of color honoring the diversity of this community and the beauty of its natural environment. 

About the Wheaton Headquarters

The mixed-use M-NCPPC building with ground-floor retail and upper-floor offices frames both Triangle Lane, Grandview Avenue and a landscaped plaza and the Marian Fryer town square. The large, entrance lobby is framed in glass, illuminates the new plaza at night and is inviting and symbolizes the transparency and civic mindedness of government. The two-story lobby space will be open to the public once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and used for displays, celebrations, and other events. The open lobby includes an information desk and publicly accessible grand staircase leading to the Planning Board auditorium on the second floor. A living green wall extends on one side of the space to represent the building’s environmentally sensitive design. The building, located at 2425 Reedie Drive, Wheaton, MD, is currently closed to the public with staff on a maximum telework schedule due to the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more about the Wheaton Headquarters building.