Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Twinbrook Developers, I Give You: Guidelines for a Walkable City

The Montgomery County Planning Commission just released its 2009 Urban Design Guidelines for the Twinbrook section of Rockville with a set of advisory rules 8 years in the making to guide developers in producing a more walkable, livable neighborhood that will "build a community."

In 2001, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission joined with the Montgomery County Council and County Executive, residents, business owners, planners and architects to devise a plan for the Twinbrook neighborhood along Viers Mill Road to combat sprawl by improving pedestrian access and encouraging transit use and mixed-use development. What follows is the brainchild of eight years of meetings.

The guidelines seek to break Twinbrook into three zones of Metro Core, Light Industrial, and Technology Employment, and lay out a system that will be more ped-friendly, sustainable, and attractive. To save you from having to read 50 pages of municipal urbanspeak, we've taken the liberty of summarizing the recommendations below.

You're welcome.

The first rule of developing in Twinbrook: Mind your p's & q's. It's all about pedestrian-quality development, people.

Twinbrook needs crosswalks and street lights. And if you're thinking of building in the neighborhood any time soon, don't be chintzy with the streetscaping—pile on the street furniture and keep sidewalks tree-lined but with closely-spaced, single-file trees that are easier to navigate. Oh, and each street has its own specially designated tree species, because what's the use in lining up all those trees if they're not going to match?

Get ready to spend some extra money on community art and open spaces with public street access. And, lest you think you've filled your tree quota for this design, remember to include a 50% tree canopy in all open spaces. If you're looking for the right kind of inspiration, check out what the developers at JBG have planned for the Twinbrook Station Green with their "gold neighborhood" - one of the three designated open spaces included in the guidelines and part of JBG's much larger plan for the neighborhood.

The streets are going to be overhauled so that the blocks are shorter for on-foot commuters. Business district streets like Fishers Lane, Washington Street, and Wilkins Avenue need permanent on-street parking. The same goes for those four to six-lane streets like Twinbrook Parkway and Parklawn Drive.

If you're building near residential neighborhoods, especially near the Rockville boundary, try to keep your structures 60 feet or shorter. The "Light Industrial Area" is located along Wilkins Avenue and Parklawn Drive and features buildings designated for service industrial uses with smaller lots and shorter heights to match - 42 feet's the limit. The "Technology Area" has been set aside to "meet the needs of the advanced technology and biotechnology industries" as well as to provide some extra space for retail, offices, and some residential. The planners would like you to consider glass entry-ways if you're thinking of developing over there.

Buildings near the "Metro Core Area" must provide a minimum of 25% residential space and can reach a maximum height of 143 feet, just like its urban neighbor 10 miles to the south, thank you very much. Retail goes on the ground floor and if you could make your structures entirely out of non-tinted glass, that would be ideal.

A LEED Gold rating is preferable for new Twinbrook developments, but a LEED Silver rating is now mandatory. Additionally, "adaptive reuse of buildings is encouraged." Throw in some solar panels or integrate some green roof technology if you really want to suck up. Reduce paving in open spaces and have some ideas in mind for stormwater management.

And there you have it: 50 pages of Urban Design Guidelines in one easy-to-swallow capsule.

Rockville MD real estate news.


Akil on Nov 18, 2009, 11:25:00 PM said...

Why can't they just copy this blue print for white flint, shady grove and Rockville

Toronto real estate agents on Nov 22, 2009, 4:42:00 PM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Akil on Nov 22, 2009, 7:26:00 PM said...

Yeh i did....thanks for the compliment on Sep 29, 2014, 11:15:00 AM said...

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