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Germantown Town Center Urban Park
Steve Kelly, LASN Editor



The paving of the serpentine walk is 3"-thick 12" x 18" concrete pavers (Hanover Architectural Products) in an alternating charcoal and light limestone color pattern with a 'Tudor' finish gauged for a bituminous setting bed. The cobble edging and retaining walls are reclaimed granite cobble from the Baltimore Salvage Yard. The metal wall fencing (GREENscreen) has 3"-thick panels and is steel edged.
Photo: Roger Foley

Germantown, Md. (pop. 90,676) is 30 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., and lies within Montgomery County. One can easily get up to Germantown from D.C. via the Washington Metro's Red Line to the Shady Grove Station.

The founding of the city was in the 1830s and 1840s, when German immigrants began selling wares at a crossroads that became known as "German Town." The local historical society says the name derived from the merchants' heavy German accents. The majority of landowners were actually of English or Scottish descent. Today, Germantown reflects a diverse population: 36% of European lineage; 22% of African heritage; 20% Asian; and 18% Hispanic.



The elliptical, enclosed 5:1 pitched lawn overlooks the wetlands and is buffered by Magnolia grandiflora 'Brackens Brown Beauty' trees and Prague viburnum shrubs.

The over-sized, undulating play/seating elements that resemble "potato chips" (Escofet USA, Lungo Mare Element) are reinforced cast stone concrete and weigh 6,600 pounds.
Photo: John Yanson, Montgomery County Parks

Germantown is moderately affluent, boasting a median household income of $76,061 (2010 city data estimate). Locally, Germantown is identified with the BlackRock Center for the Arts, which sponsors the Germantown Oktoberfest. Historical note: John Wilkes Booth co-conspirator George Atzerodt, a German immigrant, was directed to kill Vice-President Andrew Johnson. He did not carry out his dark task, and was captured at his cousin's house in Germantown.

Project Scope of Work
Germantown Town Center Park is at the north end of an 8.8-acre parcel owned by Montgomery County and shared by the new Germantown Library. Originally envisioned in a 1989 master plan, the park design activated the fallow acreage of stormwater detention basins, a spring-fed pond, wetlands and steep slopes. The old detention basins did not process stormwater to the extent required by new state law.


Wall recessed LED pathlights (Bega, 1-watt white 3300K) and metal halide lamped luminaires on 12' and 15' poles (Selux) keep the pedestrian path safe for night strolls.

There are also below-grade mounted LED uplights, in-grade mounted LED directional walk-over markers, plus a variety of in-grade recessed mounted accent luminaires.
Photo: Roger Foley

Facility planning began in 2003. The park opened in October 2015, with a design and construction tab of $8.4 million. The park provides open and recreation space, while raising the bar for integrated stormwater management and sustainability. The site filters runoff from a 40-acre urban drainage area through bioretention Best Replica Watches and infiltration. There's a 130' x 35' x 16' underground sand filter tank, specialized cascade outfalls and improvements to the pond and wetlands.

The site was designed to protect the wetlands; provide wildlife habitat; experience nature; capture and treat stormwater; provide recreation through walking trails, open lawns and event spaces; and link the surrounding residential communities.


The twisted stainless steel elements sculpture is by artist David Hess. He also selected the boulders, which are from the Blue Mont Quarry (Patuxent Companies) in White Hall, Maryland. Hess works mostly with rescued materials and oversees a number of skilled craftsmen in the Hess Industries Atelier, an adapted 1850s barn in a rural setting not far from downtown Baltimore. His work is on view in Baltimore at the Goya Contemporary Gallery and the American Visionary Art Museum.
Photo: Roger Foley

This urban park possesses a strong sense of place, while providing significant environmental benefit from its stormwater infrastructure. The design team included Shelley Rentsch of Annapolis Landscape Architects (lead designer) and Robyn Barnhart of Charles P. Johnson and Associates (civil engineers). In close collaboration with M-NCPPC park staff, the team envisioned a playful and passive recreational environment with a series of distinct, outdoor spaces each oriented toward the site's natural features, the pond and wetlands.


The Germantown Town Center Park design protected a wetlands and pond in the center of this rapidly urbanizing area. The project incorporated stormwater management for over 40 acres of densely populated watershed, demonstrating integration of public infrastructure and open space design. The opening ceremony for the park was October 17, 2015. Transit, business properties and retail are nearby and walkable. Note the 3 "braided" sections of the serpintine walk, each forming an "eyelid."

Defining Elements
Defining elements include a braided walkway, elliptical canted lawn, library plaza, promenade, necklace lawn and raised plaza. The braided walkway artfully provides universal access to sloped site, while delineating space, encouraging movement and facilitating varying views. The serpentine walkways and stairs encourage children to move about in a fun yet controlled environment. Boulders for play and seating are scattered throughout.


Among the trees planted along the walkway are Ulmus Americana 'Princeton'
(see plant palette).

Play Another play area, a passive, elliptical enclosed green space overlooking the wetlands, features a 5:1 pitched lawn, green chaise longues and evergreen buffer plantings. Over-sized, undulating concrete panels that resemble "potato chips" are sculptural play and seating elements. There's also a 100-foot diameter circular lawn surrounded by granite stepping-stones known as the "necklace," and a boardwalk weaving through the wetlands.

Lighting creates night vistas, defines pathways, distinguishes elevation changes and provides a sense of security. Debra Gilmore (Gilmore Lighting Design) used LED accent lighting in pole-mounted adjustable fixtures, recessed wall lights and colored LEDs integrated into the boardwalk railings. Blue light was selected for its visibility in low-level light conditions and as a metaphorical reference to water.



The bike path crosses a picket railed bridge of Douglas fir slates. The hot dipped galvanized railings were custom fabricated by Miscellaneous Metals and are lit by amber and blue 0.5-watt LEDs (Prolume).
Photo: Roger Foley

Public Art
Public art inspired by the park's natural setting was designed, fabricated and installed by artist David Hess. As a dramatic focal point, clusters of twisted, entwined stainless steel elements emerge from a series of carefully placed boulders, creating a pergola structure inspired by nature. Matching handrails are integrated into the braided walkway and add energy and excitement.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is a steward of the park system in Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Germantown Town Center Park was designed to protect its natural resources and provide invaluable stormwater management for the greater community, while balancing the need for recreation and enjoyment of the natural environment for the residents and visitors of Germantown. The park is a valued resource for neighbors, the Germantown Public Library, the Black Rock Center for the Arts and the commercial and residential communities of Germantown. The library holds reading and educational programs on its lawns and paths; nearby workers enjoy the park's aesthetic and environment at lunch times; residents bring their children to recreate on the park lawns and meet their neighbors; others enjoy the natural aspects of the park, while others walk the new accessible trail connections to nearby services and public transportation.

Award: 2016 Built by Women DC, Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, Significant Landscape Celebrating Women's Contributions to D.C. in Design & Construction.

Project Team
- Owner: Montgomery County Department of Parks (MCDP)
- Consulting Team Selection: Patricia McManus, Design Section Supervisor, Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission (NCPPC), MDCP
- Consultants' Manager: Andrew Frank, NCPPC, MDCP
- Project Landscape Architect (managed landscape architectural design): Linda Komes, NCPPC, MDCP

- Lead Landscape Architect Project Manager and Designer: Shelley Rentsch
- Project Landscape Architect: Jenny Smeltzer // Annapolis Landscape Architects
- Principal Engineer: Brian Davila
- Lead Civil Engineer: Charles P. Johnson & Associates
- Public Sector Div. Manager: Brian Davila, Charles P. Johnson & Associates
- Associate Civil Engineer: Robyn Barnhart
- Paving Contractor: Yank Strube, HMF Paving Contractors, Inc.
- Lighting Design: Debra Gilmore, Gilmore Lighting Design
- Public Artist/Sculpture: David Hess

Manufacturers Specified
Fencing: GREENscreen(R)
Kim Prolume
Railings: Miscellaneous Metals
Site Furnishings:
Metal: Victor Stanley, Inc.
Poly: Landscape Forms
Precast: Escofet USA MWP


Most Prominent Park Plantings
Plant Design by Pearse O'Doherty


'Princeton' American elm

'Bloodgood' London Planetree

'Sparkleberry' winterberry

'Bracken's Brown Beauty' magnolia

Phlox subulata 'Emerald Cushion Blue'

'Aaron's Beard' (Creeping St. John's Wort)

Liriope muscari 'Royal Purpule'

Abelia x grandiflora

Rudbeckia maxima

Deciduous Trees

22 'Princeton' American elms
16 Amelanchier arborea
13 'Bloodgood' London Planetree
12 Quercus coccinea

40 'Bracken's Brown Beauty' magnolias
34 Magnolia virginiana

136 'Sparkleberry' winterberry
97 llex glabra
67 Abelia x grandiflora
47 Viburnum x pragense

1,670 Hypericum calycinum 'Aaron's Beard'
2,699 Liriope muscari 'Royal Purpule'
448 Phlox subulata 'Emerald Cushion Blue'

As seen in LASN magazine, January 2017.

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February 15, 2019, 2:10 pm PST

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