North Bethesda Market, by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, cooperating with sculptor Jim Sanborn. Rockville, Maryland. Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects has struck again, this time with its landscape design for the mixed-use urban development of North Bethesda Market. Together with HKS Architects, the firm transformed a former suburban parking lot into a small but extraordinarily good-looking urban center. This project in the Washington, D.C., metro area is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also convincing on a sustainable level, providing extensive green roofs, a rain garden, and the nearly exclusive use of native plants.Can a project be too perfect? Nothing seems to be left to chance, which in my opinion makes the design a little bit too perfect. However, a plaza surrounded by high-class restaurants and luxury shopping is probably expected to look perfect, and I must admit that its down-to-the-last-detail in design that will undoubtedly make every landscape architect’s heart beat faster.
North Bethesda Market – Blending Home with Community
HKS Architects describes the goal for this 650,000-square-foot project as “blending home with community”. Indeed, North Bethesda Market offers various semi-private and public open spaces, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy this place equally.Two big, green rooftop gardens — both including a swimming pool area – serve the residents’ needs for community and relaxation, while the elliptical plaza in the buildings’ center, a festival street for outdoor markets, and the sidewalk landscapes are accessible for everybody. Forgotten spaces can be so much more It is exactly these kinds of street landscapes, often treated as inferior in the past, that are given so much thought by NBW Landscape Architects. The sidewalks are separated from motorized traffic and sheltered by a canopy of trees. Cafes provide an engaging, pedestrian-friendly urban experience. Small and more intimate public places are sprinkled throughout, offering benches and different vistas. A fascinating rain garden that mitigates stormwater runoff is nestled between the sidewalk and Rockville Pike.
Is North Bethesda Market Pedestrian-Friendly Project?
This pedestrian-friendly project was completed in May 2010. Since then, many people have wandered the tree-lined streets on the beautiful, striated stone paving. The use of locally sourced granite in different-colored shapes helps to create a breath-taking atmosphere at the central plaza.Related Articles:
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Quartz Meets Water A stunning mini-waterfall is one of the key features of the design, breaking the strictly arranged lines of stone with a smooth burble. Through three wavy steps, visitors are allowed not only to look at this reassuring installation, but also to get in direct touch with the uncut stones on which the water runs down in a playful way.Alluvium – A Name and a Meaning One more element has the power to steal the show: the sculpture “Alluvium”. The Latin name describes unconsolidated material deposited by rivers, and the sculpture, together with the quartz-rich granite and the fountain, recalls the previous, unspoiled environment of this project site . The most conspicuous part of the art installation, by sculptor Jim Sanborn, is made out of copper perforated with waterjet-cut texts in various languages. On closer inspectionm one will notice that even the granite is inscribed with texts about the area’s natural and cultural histories. “Alluvium” acts as the finishing touch of North Bethesda Market, revealing the allusions to the geography of the region even if any natural trace has been completely wiped away. A Design for the Future to be Enjoyed Now In conclusion this stunning design, based on sustainable concepts and a site-specific sculpture by Sanborn, is working very well, and we would definitely appreciate seeing more projects like this –especially if it’s not only in the context of luxurious shopping facilities and apartments that are almost unaffordable. North Bethesda Market is an unexpectedly overwhelming city plaza, which convinces with green roofs, a stormwater runoff concept, and the major use of native plants. It is indeed a design for the future. Recommended Reading:
- Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery
- Urban Design: The Composition of Complexity by Ron Kasprisin
Article by Sophie Thiel Return to HomepagePublished in