Fall 2013 Greenbelt, Maryland: A 2037 Vision

Fall 2013 Urban Practice Studio

Greenbelt, Maryland: A 2037 Vision

Students examined historic Greenbelt, Maryland to understand how the 1937 garden city might grow and thrive toward 2037. The study involved a range of scales from urban to architectural and concluded with a master plan which was then “fleshed out” with individual architectural projects that then, in turn, re-informed the master plan.

The design linked Greenbelt’s initial idea of healthy living in a green park to greater health overall: physical, mental, civic and economic. This helped shape the urban design strategy which, in turn, informed individual architectural tactics. Projects included housing, parking garages, new library, fitness centers, recreation areas and a town hall. In a glissando-like process students moved between the urban and architectural scales.

Edited from Greenbelt’s website:

“A National Historic Landmark, the City of Greenbelt was first community in the United States built as a federal venture in housing. From the beginning it was designed as a complete city, with businesses, schools, roads and facilities for recreation and town government. Greenbelt is one of three greenbelt towns envisioned by Rexford Guy Tugwell, friend and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and created under the Resettlement Administration in 1935 under authority of the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act. (Greendale, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee, and Greenhills, Ohio, near Cincinnati, are the other two towns. A fourth town, to be located in New Jersey, was never built.) Greenbelt was an experiment in both the physical and social planning that preceded its construction. Homes were grouped in superblocks, with a system of interior walkways permitting residents to go from home to town center without crossing a major street. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic were carefully separated. The architecture was streamlined in the Art Deco style popular at that time—with curving lines, glass brick inserts in the facades of apartment buildings, and buttresses along the front wall of the elementary school.”