Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

White Flint Public Amenities Planning charrette -- tonight

One of the things that many communities don't do very well is planning the integration of civic assets such as libraries, recreation centers, meeting spaces, and various types of parks into new developments, master planning, and the creation of communities.

Well, maybe other communities do it well, DC doesn't because we don't do master planning at neighborhood-district-sector scales. We do "small area plans" but they aren't full master plans, and they aren't neighborhood plans--they are development management plans for the most part, although good things can result, we often miss things (I am no less at fault, I can point out to big gaps in terms of public space in both the NoMA and Brookland plans, and I should have been more conscious of this and worked to correct it during the plan development processes).

As I have mentioned, I believe that the White Flint redevelopment program in Montgomery County Maryland, along with the replanning and redevelopment of Tysons Corner in Fairfax County Virginia, are two of the most significant community redevelopment planning efforts across the United States.

Both are attempts to reconceptualize and redefine sub-urbanity for the 21st Century, and they are a lot more urban--without all the mess of economic and racial diversity which typifies center cities--than suburbs tend to be comfortable with (see the recent entry, especially the comments, "Montgomery no longer a homogenous suburb," from Greater Greater Washington).

One of the things that makes these kinds of re-planning efforts a bit uncomfortable for me is that for the most part, the planning is led by private sector initiatives that are most commonly driven only by the profit imperative, so integrating public spaces that aren't merely gussied up spaces of consumption and consumerism is either an afterthought or never happens at all.

The White Flint plan will be including an public amenities plan. The White Flint Sector Plan identifies several public amenities to serve the existing and future White Flint Community. These amenities include, but are not limited to:

• Library
• Recreation Center
• 1 to 2 Acre Civic Green Space
• Satellite Office for Regional Services Center
• Modifications to Wall Park
• Meeting Space
• Recreational Loop

There is a charrette for it tonight (I can't attend) and a public presentation later in the month:

Community Meeting 1: Community Perspectives
Date: Wednesday June 1, 2011
Location: Walter Johnson High School Cafeteria | 6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, MD Time: 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM

Community Meeting 2: Plan Presentation
This meeting will present a proposed amenities implementation plan based on the previous meeting.

Date: Thursday June 16, 2011
Location: Walter Johnson High School Cafeteria | 6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, MD
Time: 7:00PM-9:30PM

For more information, see the website:

- Developing an Integrated Model and Implementation Strategy for Certain Public Amenities in White Flint

Note that going to and participating in events like this, and reading and synthesizing the plans that result are great for your education in planning.

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