Tuesday, February 03, 2015


Montgomery County planners have drawn up suggestions for improving a proposed pedestrian bridge  at the Intelligence Community Campus (ICC-B), part of a large expansion of the facilities well underway at the Sangamore Road site. This is the latest in a series of recommendations the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is voluntarily soliciting from the Planning Department on the project. The significance of that, is the fact that local officials do not have the same level of control over federal projects as they do private ones.

A pedestrian bridge and walkway that will connect a parking garage with the Centrum Building has been reviewed by planners, and they have made several suggestions to improve the design. Among them are matching the bridge columns and railing architecture with that of the columns of the pedestrian walkway between Erskine Hall and the Centrum Building, match the bridge's girder to the panels of that walkway, choose a "naturalistic" color other than the proposed gray for the exteriors of three campus buildings, and using porus materials for the walkway rather than the proposed concrete.

Planners say the DIA has responded to previous community concerns regarding the planned covered walkway, and are suggesting using a "discrete" covering, or placing shelters along the route.

In addition, planners are submitting more general comments on landscaping for the campus. They are recommending native ground covers and shrubs along the walkway, a 10-foot buffer of river rock and gravel along the western security fence to protect National Park Service forest outside of it, and DIA acceptance of stormwater runoff recommendations made by the National Capital Planning Commission now, and in the future.

There will be security cameras every 150' around the perimeter, and light poles which will only be activated during an emergency. A green screen of Bignonia capreolata will cloak the PEPCO substation. Plantings along Sangamore Road are designed to provide "filtered views" of the campus from the outside, rather than hide the facilities. They will include deciduous and coniferous trees, shrubs and ground covers. Exhibits outside the perimeter along Sangamore for public viewing will feature the "chronology of the site development and interpretive record of the significant contributions of the cartographic research and production professions housed at the site from 1942-present."

Demolition of the existing Emory Building and Central Energy Plant will take place later this year. And while the main entrance will remain on Sangamore Road at Sentinel Drive, it will loop around inside the perimeter to avoid traffic backups onto the public road while employees drive through security checkpoints.

Planning staff are recommending approval of the recommendations, and transmittal to the DIA. Personally, I believe the redesign will be an improvement over the previous configuration. One of the new structures at the front along Sangamore looms over the top of the Shops at Sumner Place a bit more than I had expected, but that is a shopping center as opposed to a backyard.

Images via Montgomery County Planning Department

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