Friends of White Flint

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Kensington, MD 20891

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ULI Report Suggests Ways to Brand the Pike District and Make It Memorable

Posted on by Amy Ginsburg

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The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) recently published their “Identifying and Branding the Pike District,” and it’s actually a pretty interesting read.  That said, it is summer, so if you prefer to play 18 holes, lounge at the pool, or BBQ on the deck instead of reading all 32 pages, here are some highlights:

  • The term “White Flint” means different things to different people, and there are varying interpretations of its boundaries and neighborhoods. When this TAP was commissioned, “The Pike District” intended to refer to the commercial corridor along Rockville Pike, between Grosvenor-Strathmore Metrorail station to the south and the Rockville City limits, just south of the Twinbrook Metrorail station. The boundaries, however, are fluid and could encompass more in the future as the Pike District identity continues to grow.
  • There is no need for a “giant sign” or an arbitrary moniker to create a sense of identity — these elements have a limited lifespan and can feel inauthentic. Instead, the Panel encouraged the sponsor to enhance the civic realm, and view the new primary, secondary, and tertiary streets as foundational assets that can create a sense of identity and place through the intersections they create.
  • Celebrate the area’s intersections as anchors for the study area. Reclaiming this public realm will necessitate creative ways to embrace both vehicular and pedestrian activity at the intersections.

 

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Each zone will have its own unique character that is driven by the redevelopment of the land within it. The primary and secondary intersections that populate each zone are the foundational elements for creating identity. Image Source: ULI Washington.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Recognizing that influential developers along Rockville Pike will likely be branding their own developments through marketing, signage, and other elements, Panelists encourage the sponsor to differentiate from this approach in order to avoid causing competition and confusion. Instead, creatively reclaiming the public space provides an overarching sense of identity that can unify the entire study area in its present state and as it grows.
  • Expected activity along Rockville Pike will transform the way it is used today, and so any identity strategy must be designed to evolve as well.
  • The Panel recommended embracing pylons, or large upright structures, that can serve a multitude of uses: navigational, whimsical, artistic, and technological. These creative uses of illumination and color can make pylons interactive at all hours of the day. At the pedestrian level, employing light and color at crosswalks can render intersections more whimsical and interactive.

This rendering captures several ideas for celebrating how the intersections in the study area can reclaim the civic space and build identity. Large pylons serve a multitude of uses, chief among these uses are placemaking archways, and meeting destinations, as well as pragmatic pillars on which street lights can hang and phones may be charged. Image Source: ULI Washington.This rendering captures several ideas for celebrating how the intersections in the study area can reclaim the civic space and build identity. Large pylons serve a multitude of uses, chief among these uses are placemaking archways, and meeting destinations, as well as pragmatic pillars on which street lights can hang and phones may be charged. Image Source: ULI Washington.

  • Adding LED lighting to sidewalks, enhancing crosswalks in all directions, and raising the road level at the intersections signal to both pedestrians and auto-travelers that they are crossing something different and unique. Such elements also calm traffic and will reduce speeds throughout the study area.
  • Public/private partnerships will be necessary to create an identity for the area, and  formalizing a mechanism to coordinate private investment so that the area’s developers can work in concert with each other will be critical.Establishing a BID that is dedicated to serving the study area would be optimal. The Panel acknowledged, however, that there may be hurdles to creating a BID, and that establishing such a formal body could be a timely and burdensome endeavor. Until a BID is formed, the Panel recommended empowering the White Flint Partnership as the main entity that would convene local private stakeholders in the immediate term.

  ULI Pike District Report

3 Responses to ULI Report Suggests Ways to Brand the Pike District and Make It Memorable

Marc Brenman says: July 21, 2016 at 9:54 am

Scribd is a poor format to distribute information on such matters, since it hides behind a paywall. How about just posting a PDF file that is easy to download? In terms of comments, much of the development in the White Flint area is poor in that there is insufficient greenspace; the buildings are built right up to the sidewalks. And there are no safe, easy, or convenient ways to get across Rockville Pike. And there are no answers provided to the fact that the road network is already saturated, that Metrorail is broken and is at capacity. Too much emphasis is put on bicycles, even though only 1.5% of people commute to work on bikes. Some of the new proposed buildings are also too tall, looming over surrounding suburban developments that have been there for many decades. While Bethesda is used as a model, some of the new buildings are much taller than those in Bethesda.

Amy Ginsburg says: July 21, 2016 at 1:01 pm

I don’t know why you encountered a paywall to read the PDF. That’s not supposed to happen.

Thank you for your comments. Yes, crossing the Pike is difficult, though we are striving to increase pedestrian safety and ease. While metro is not where it needs to be right now, it actually is not at capacity since ridership has decreased. Walkability and broad sidewalks are part of the plan. I guess that the Pike District is in its awkward adolescent phase right now. It just takes time for it to be all that it will be.

Ron Eby says: July 21, 2016 at 3:04 pm

The Pike District might be in its adolescent phase but it already suffers from poor quality DNA. The increased level of traffic created by all of this development in a highly concentrated area will undermine the goals for the community. The premise that people will live, work, and play in a precscibed area is a great concept but unlikely. Are that many people really going to walk and bike to work? Successive 300 foot buildings are not very conducive to an attractive walkable, livable community. Thank you JBG and Saul Co. They block sunlight, air, and disrupt lines of sight. Marc is correct, the county planners should have maintained a lower skyline as incorporated into the Bethesda model. I feel like we had a great opportunity to really improve White Flint and we squandered it.