People move to Kentlands for a lot of reasons including good schools, convenience to work, and its proximity to conveniences such as nearby grocery stores and amenities such as restaurants and movie theaters. Three factors often stand out, however: the neighborhood’s walkability with parks and paths and alleys; its attractiveness with beautiful homes and a central design theme; and the fact that the neighborhood in general and those homes, in particular, are well-kept, clean and in good repair.
New urbanism is the concept that underlies many of these factors. It is a view of housing development that emphasizes people over cars with a wide variety of techniques large (our alley network, for example) and small (such as our narrow streets that slow traffic just a bit). These “muscles and bones” of Kentlands’ layout are enhanced by its “skin” of a central architectural theme focused on streetscapes that are reminiscent of older parts of the Washington Metropolitan Area such as Georgetown, Old Town Alexandria, and Annapolis. This is why our homes are generally in the Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, or American Bungalow style. The quality of the materials used and well-kept condition of our homes are driven by the various architectural features defined in the Kentlands Design Standards (or Kentlands Code) as enforced by the Kentlands Historical Trust (design) and Board on Code Compliance (condition). [A word from our sponsor: if you are interested in serving on either committee, please email Barney Gorin.]
Kentlands, as the first large new urbanism development, is nationally and internationally famous. It is studied by university students and practicing town planners who seek to emulate its strengths, such as our network of mews, and avoid its errors, such as Main Street’s location and the design of many of the live-work units.
Kentlands Town Architect Marina Khoury, of DPZ Partners LLC, will explore why Kentlands and Lakelands remain a touchstone for the growing new urbanism movement with a presentation at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn on January 9. Whether you have an abiding appreciation for new urbanism or you have no clue about the movement, this free lecture next week, sponsored by the Kentlands Community Foundation (KCF), is likely to have something you will find interesting and relevant. It is part of the KCF’s lecture series, launched last year, which will focus on new urbanism throughout this season.
The lecture will be preceded by a wine and cheese reception at 7 PM with the talk beginning at 7:30. It will include Marina’s thoughts on how new urbanism has evolved and “become an international urban design sensation” in the years since the fledgling movement helped shape Kentlands in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This will include the principles that shaped the movement and how Kentlands and Lakelands continue to be a source of education for planners and communities around the world.