The Blairs development in Silver Spring, Maryland, was initially conceived and built by Tower Companies in the 1950s and '60s. Characteristic of its time, the 27-acre development features a distinctly suburban pattern of large buildings amid parking lots. The Sasaki/Bing Thom redevelopment plan creates a new mixed-use, transit-oriented neighborhood that connects to the regional park system and downtown Silver Spring. The plan totals 2,800 apartments and 450,000 square feet of new mixed-use commercial space, all within a five-minute walk of the nearby Metro station—offering a more urban and walkable lifestyle for the area's growing population. The design is complex and varied—bringing the feel, scale, and overlap of uses that is more akin to an organically evolved city.
The Bing Thom/Sasaki plan creates a densification appropriate for a site so near transit, and with parking ratios for residential halved, the comprehensive network of urban streets and parks encourages walking. Parking is located underground or in the middle of blocks wrapped by residential uses.
The network of publicly accessible open spaces makes the site permeable. Pedestrian connections through residential blocks link The Blairs (as well as the Shepherd Park neighborhood to the south) to the Metro station. These green spaces are scaled for residential use and designed as neighborhood social spaces with dog parks, a children's play area, and a fitness park. Residential buildings are designed with townhouses at both street level and along the edges of these green spaces to reinforce the pedestrian scale.
The crescent-shaped Blair Park is framed by new grocery, retail, restaurant, office, hotel, and residential uses at the northern and upper elevation of the site where paths converge toward the Metro station. Blair Park is the commercial focus of the redevelopment, as well as a civic space with a one-half-acre green for staging events and performances.
New streets are designed with bio-filtration for stormwater in curbside tree planting zones. Rooftop courtyards over parking garages serve as private residential green spaces and green roofs of taller buildings function as part of the stormwater management strategy.
The phased redevelopment will enable the existing retail center to operate during initial phases. One of the first steps in redevelopment will be to tear down four of the complex's smaller buildings.