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2017 Design Excellence Awards

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Montgomery County is one of the country’s most successful and well run counties, and its stature should be reflected in the excellent architecture, urban design and landscape architecture of its buildings and spaces. Design excellence is becoming increasingly important as the amount of available land for development in the County is shrinking and building density is increasing. The highest quality design is important to sustain a thriving and attractive County with buildings, public spaces and neighborhoods that are worthy of its deserving residents and workers. Following the success of last year’s Design Excellence Award program, the Montgomery County Planning Department is seeking submissions for the 2017 Design Excellence Award.

The Montgomery County Planning Department seeks to recognize exceptional work in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design through its third annual Design Excellence Award competition. This year there will be two Design Excellence Awards, one for buildings and their sites, and one specifically for open spaces and landscapes. Developers, property owners and their design teams are invited to submit completed projects that contribute to improving the quality of physical environments throughout the County.

The call for entries opened on Monday, May 15, 2017 and closed on Thursday, July 27, 2017. The selection of two winners will be made by an outside jury of accomplished professionals invited by the Planning Department.

Project Eligibility for Award

Projects eligible for the award include both private and public structures and public spaces located within Montgomery County that were built within the past 10 years and are currently occupied and in use. The submitted projects should express the essential qualities of outstanding walkable, sustainable places at the scale of the neighborhood, block and building. They should illustrate how great design contributes to the community in terms of character, identity and economic value. Review the 2016 winner and citations.

Keynote Speaker

Jeffrey S. Abramson | Partner, The Tower Companies

Jeffrey Abramson

Jeffrey Abramson is a partner in The Tower Companies, an award-winning, family-owned real estate development company headquartered in Rockville, MD, and recognized green building leader. He is the driving force behind the company’s well-known sustainability success. Jeffrey’s leadership and passion has been recognized and awarded by many organizations including the State of Maryland, Natural Resources Defense Council, District of Columbia Mayor’s Office, Sustainability Roundtable, Aspen Institute, United States Green Building Council, United States Environmental Protection Agency, and Washington Business Journal.

Jeffrey is a top international authority on green building technology and frequently speaks at national forums such as The Garrison Institute, Aspen Environment Forum, and Harvard Business School. In 2015, he accepted the Smart CEO Healthiest Company award on Tower’s behalf.

Jeffrey serves on the Board Trustees of the National Building Museum and co-chaired the museum’s exhibit Big and Green: Sustainable Buildings for the 21st Century and has sponsored numerous other exhibits on sustainability. He co-founded The David Lynch Foundation, which provides scholarships to those interested in learning the stress reduction technique of Transcendental Meditation, and is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Maharishi University of Management, an award-winning university specializing in consciousness-based education.

Jeffrey generously gives his guidance and resources to organizations focused on environmental sustainability, health and wellness, education, empowering women, and music and the arts. His investment in Transcendental Meditation (TM) research yielded $25 million in research grants from the National Institutes of Health on the effects of TM on cardiovascular disease. Beyond providing scholarship support to help students, women, and veterans worldwide learn TM, Jeffrey ensures that Tower staff enjoys access to TM to help them experience inner calm and clarity of mind and maximize their full potential.

Jeffrey and his wife Rona actively support scholarships of the TM program for women’s and girls’ empowerment in schools and NGOs in Africa.

Meet the Award Jury

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    Andrew Altman is a nationally recognized leader in transforming cities, urban planning and directing large-scale urban development projects and public/private partnerships. Andy is currently the co-founder and Managing Principal of Fivesquares Development, a real estate development company based in Washington DC focused on innovative urban and transit-oriented projects. Andy was most recently CEO of the Olympic Park Legacy Company in London where he led the transformation of the 500-acre London 2012 Olympic Park – the largest regeneration project in the United Kingdom. Andy first established himself as an internationally recognized urban planner as the Director of Washington, DC’s Office of Planning where he created and directed the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative that resulted in the complete transformation of Washington’s waterfront.

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    Jeff Lee, FASLA is the President and Founding Principal of Lee and Associates, Inc. headquartered at Gallery Place in Washington D.C. He received The Presidential Citation from The American Society of Architects: AIA, for leading the design team for The Pentagon 9-11 Memorial. In 2007, he became the first Korean American to be inducted into The American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows, the highest honor one can achieve in the profession..

    During the past 30 years of practice, he has crafted a body of work which integrates the complex relationship between man and nature by designing ecological and sustainable solutions that promote stewardship of our land, waterways, cities, gardens, parks and ultimately, the public realm. His focus on beauty and function, while maintaining a deep commitment to the history and culture of natural and built places, has produced many unique, award-winning projects in the U.S.A. and throughout the world. Whether it is a Cultural Tourism Master Plan for two centuries of Buddhism in China(Dazu); two of the most important connections of the Hajj(Mecca); or breathing new life and function to a historical Ottoman Pasha’s Palace (Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul), his projects all share a respect for the past and an, understanding of the present in an attempt to create timeless projects for the future.

    Lee was educated at the University of Virginia in the School of Architecture in landscape architecture, fine arts and architecture (through a scholarship). After working in Seoul, Korea; Doha, Qatar and on projects throughout Asia and Middle East, he returned to U.S.A. to launch his career in landscape architecture. He started his own firm in 1987 in Washington, D.C., immediately gaining attention for significant projects such as: the Finnish Chancery; the Korean Embassy Residence; the International Culture & Trade Center: Ronald Reagan Building; Fort Belvoir Community Hospital; and the recently completed City Center. His current projects include: The Wharf at SW Waterfront; Capital Crossings; St. Elizabeth Campus; UDC Student Center and The Smithsonian. Lee serves on the Board of Managers for UVA Alumni Association; Council Member of FONA (Friends of the U.S. National Arboretum) and is a former Vice Chairman and Life member of The Committee of 100 on The Federal City, an organization founded in 1923 dedicated to safeguarding and advancing Washington’s historic distinction, natural beauty and livability.

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    Suzane Reatig, FAIA founded her practice in 1989 with the strong conviction that a small office can be creative, socially responsive and still prosper. Reatig has developed projects of great sensitivity in urban areas that have been long neglected. Expressing a contemporary use of materials and an intuitive understanding of modern structure and space, her bold designs reflect our time while still addressing the basic needs of her clients.

    Reatig has received numerous national and international awards, and her work has been extensively discussed by her peers, the architectural community and press. She has been featured in prominent publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Architectural Record.  She has been a featured speaker at the National AIA and The National Building Museum, a frequent presenter at local AIA meetings, and a mentor to aspiring AIA fellows, all of which allow her the opportunity to share her vision with other architects.

    Given the clarity of her designs, the contextual and spatial simplicity of their formal resolution, and the beauty of their construction and uplifting sensitivity to light and reflection, Reatig’s work continues to inspire.

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    John Francis Torti, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C President
    As President of Torti Gallas+Partners, Mr. Torti has provided strong conceptual leadership to bring his firm to international recognition. Torti Gallas’ focus on the “architecture of real estate” has provided an important catalyst for transformation in numerous cities and suburbs around the world. The firm’s role in neighborhoods like Columbia Heights and Capper Carrolsburg in Washington, DC, City West in Cincinnati, MacArthur Park in Los Angeles and Kemer Country in Istanbul has been integral to successfully transforming these places and the lives of the people who live there. Current projects such as the revitalization of the former Walter Reed Medical Center, the addition to Rockville Town Center, and the Twinbrook Metro in the Washington Area, the Alice Griffith Neighborhood in San Francisco, and the Soyak Revitalization in Istanbul are places that are just beginning their comprehensive transformations. Torti Gallas takes its responsibility seriously to understand the shifting patterns of society and how people will live in a changing world in applying their skills to make a better world. With offices in Washington DC, Silver Spring, Tampa, Los Angeles and Istanbul, Torti Gallas has focused their practice on TransNational Urbanism, transit-oriented mixed-use architecture and mixed-income neighborhoods. Mr. Torti and his partners have built a firm that understands the inextricable tie between urban design and architecture for clients and communities. Torti Gallas has been the recipient of over 100 national and international design awards in the last 15 years, including 93 LEED Platinum Certificates, the ULI Award for Excellence for Columbia Heights, the ULI Impact Award for the Capper Carrollsburg Neighborhood in Washington, and CNU Charter Awards for Wyandanch, NY, a TOD in the poorest neighborhood on Long Island, and The Corridor Plan for South Bend, Indiana. Prior to joining Torti Gallas+Partners, Mr. Torti worked with NASA and the National Capital Planning Commission, where he worked on numerous designs to rebuild Washington after the 1968 riots. He was also a Principal in an architectural firm in the Midwest, the Director of a non-profit housing and community development corporation and a Principal with CHK Architects and Planners, the firm that is now Torti Gallas+Partners.

    Mr. Torti’s professional affiliations and education include:

    -American Institute of Architects College of Fellows
    -Member of the National Board of the Congress for the New Urbanism
    -Member of the Advisory Council for the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame
    -US Green Building Council LEED AP BD+C
    -The Paul H. Kea Medal for Leadership by the Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2007
    -University of Notre Dame Bachelor of Architecture
    -Catholic University of America Graduate Studies in City and Regional Planning

    A selected listing of Mr. Torti’s recent speaking venues includes:

    -American Institute of Architects

    -Urban Land Institute

    -Congress for the New Urbanism

    -Multi Housing World Info Expo

    -National Apartment Association

    -National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show

    -The Mayor’s Institute on City Design: Northeast

    -National Conference of the American Planning Association

    -Multi-Family Housing Conference

    -University of Notre Dame

    -University of Maryland

    -Andrews University

    -University of Miami

    -Harvard University

Staff Contact

Paul Mortensen