Westbard’s Long-Awaited Town Center
DESIGN BRIEF | July 2021
Westbard’s Long-Awaited Town Center
The neighborhoods alongside River Road in Bethesda, Maryland are home to long-established civic and cultural institutions and suburban homes from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Surprisingly, however, the area lacks the pedestrian-scaled neighborhood retail typical of other early Washington suburbs. That is about to change. The Bethesda neighborhood, Westwood, will soon have a long-awaited town center that, for a variety of reasons, was never built until now. The Westbard Square project will redevelop a typical car-oriented 1960’s shopping center on Westbard Avenue in Westwood into a modern mixed-use town center that successfully combines modern and time-tested planning concepts. The new town center will contain new offices, apartments, and townhomes while still preserving the existing retail. Working with Regency Centers, MV+A was brought onto the redevelopment project in 2016 to master plan the site and guide the carefully planned phases. The phased construction will enable the existing grocer and most of the remaining retail to stay operational while the property is redeveloped.
Residential development in the area started in the 1920’s alongside Dorset Avenue, but The Great Depression and WWII delayed development of nearby retail until the 1950’s. The subsequent auto-centric retail development meant the area lacked a pedestrian-focused town center common to other early twentieth century suburban developments in the region. MV+A’s planning will establish a traditional street grid and multiple buildings facing wide sidewalks, all surrounding a central open space and a public park.
The first phase of redevelopment will begin with construction of a 124,000 SF, three-story mixed-use retail/office building with a grocery anchor and parking on the top third level, offices and parking on level two, and retail and parking on level one. The construction of a smaller, 1,600 SF retail pavilion facing the public square will follow shortly after the existing grocery building is removed. Later phases will include construction of seventy-two townhouses, a mixed-use residential building with 47,000 SF of retail and 200 residential units, a focal open space, and brand-new public park.
While Westbard Square will reinvent the decades old shopping center, the project will still appreciate the neighborhood’s history and pay homage to local building materials. The nearby Stoneyhurst Quarry alongside River Road in Bethesda provided architectural building stone for many years prior to the quarry’s closure in the 1980’s. While the Stoneyhurst Quarry is no longer active, Westbard Square will use a similar stone to continue the tradition of using this local material. The first phase of Westbard Square is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2023.
We welcome the newest additions to the MV+A Team, Ardavan Tookaloo and Elizabeth Bezilla.nd fun atmosphere to the surrounding area until the future phases of the project are complete. Pad sites, like larger projects and developments, provide space to enhance local communities.
We’re Back & We’re Hiring!
MV+A is officially back in the office! This month we began a new in-office work schedule built on the lessons learned while working from home during COVID-19. Our perception of how exactly we do our work changed as we proved we can operate in multiple venues. Moving forward, we plan to continue improving our efficiency and capturing the benefits of being together in the office while recognizing the positive aspects of working from home.
MV+A’s new standard schedule includes the option to work from home on Mondays and utilize ‘core work’ hours from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm that accommodate commuter and childcare schedules. The main idea is to provide flexibility in daily life while still maintaining valuable in-person interactions and collaboration in the office. Professional development, mentorship, feedback, and design flow are just a few aspects of working in the office that are more effective in person than remote. However, working from home for a year made us experts in Microsoft Teams and Zoom!
As always, MV+A’s clients and partners come first, and we expect to continue our exceptional, dependable work for them as we get reacquainted with Metro Center.