The Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel proposed some really cool, really unique, really interesting ideas for identifying and branding the White Flint/Pike District area.
Yesterday, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) gave a preview of their thoughts on how to brand and identify the White Flint/Pike District area. There will be a full report issued in two to three months, which of course, we'll share with you. Also, look on our blog at www.whiteflint.org for the ULI PowerPoint presentation. But now, we're excited to share with you what the nine expert panelists of the Urban Land Institute suggested to brand and identify the White Flint/Pike District area.
1) We need to think of Rockville Pike differently. They suggested we view the Pike as the spine of the White Flint/Pike District area. The Pike is the connector, a seam rather than a border. It's the grand avenue of this area.
2) The Pike District identity is secondary to the identity of the various "neighborhoods" within the area. They defined the neighborhoods as the developments like Pike and Rose, North Bethesda Market, North Bethesda Center, etc. The final "name" of this area will evolve organically over time.
3) ULI suggested that the Pike area is livable, viable, and will soon be memorable.
4) ULI said we need to celebrate the Pike and its "nodes" or zones. There are three nodes, each one about half a mile long, each with Route 355 as its spine. South, middle, and north nodes along Rockville Pike make up the White Flint/Pike District area, and more nodes could certainly be added south of White Flint mall and north of Montrose Parkway.
5) Each zone needs a large anchor that drives traffic, and this could be something either civic or commercial. Each zone needs to feel like a place and have a big idea. That does not exist now; ULI observed there is a distinct lack of character along the Pike District/White Flint area.
6) We need to celebrate the intersections along the Pike District, starting with the major ones, Old Georgetown and Rockville Pike as well as Nicholson and Rockville Pike. As the Pike District grows, more intersections would be celebrated. We need to celebrate them from the perspective of both cars and pedestrians. Rather than defining the borders of this area and naming it, celebrating the interior of the White Flint area at the major intersections is how this area will develop unique branding and identity.
Examples of fun crosswalks that would celebrate the intersections along Rockville Pike as well as identify and brand our area.
Examples of fun light features from other cities that could brand and identify the intersections of Rockville Pike.
Wayfinding signs would help people travel between the various nodes and intersections of the Pike District. The wayfinding signs would also co-brand the neighborhoods of the White Flint area and tie everything together.
To manage the implementation of these branding and identifying ideas, our area needs something that functions like a Business Improvement District (BID). Because a BID is at least a few years from reality, ULI suggested that the White Flint Partnership, working closely with residents, civic groups, and businesses, to function as a BID until there is some sort of official urban district organization. The developers that compose the White Flint Partnership would convene local stakeholders, work with the County and State Highway Administration, and handle maintenance, security, and marketing tasks.
Speaking only as Amy Ginsburg, and not officially for Friends of White Flint since we haven't gathered input from our members, I must admit I love this concept. I agree that successful community names are not dictated from on high but instead form organically over time.
How many times have you said, "Let's go to that store on the Pike where you got those cute jeans" or "Don't you love that new restaurant on the Pike?" The Pike is the center of our neighborhood. The intersections are our town squares. We need innovative, relatively inexpensive, expandable ways to identify this area.
The boundaries of the White Flint area are fuzzy -- ask 100 people what are the borders of the Pike District, and you'll soon have 100 different answers. Since that's our truth, let's make the interior of the White Flint area fabulous and unique to differentiate our area. I simply adore the idea of fun crosswalks and bold lighting at the intersections, and I can easily visualize how they will brand our beloved community.
Mark your calendars --
the next Friends of White Flint
Community/Board Meeting will be held
Wednesday, April 27th!
This meeting will feature presentations with drawings and photos from developers on upcoming White Flint area developments.
Pike and Rose, Saul Centers, Gables, the Western Workaround, Conference Center Garage, and others will present their plans.
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