Landscape Architecture + Urban Design

Downtown Silver Spring

The Peterson Companies
Foulger Pratt

Injecting new energy into a tired retail and entertainment district.

Twenty years after its initial construction and fifteen years since it won national awards for urban planning, the 22-acre Downtown Silver Spring retail and entertainment district was in need for a refresh. In 2018, OCULUS's winning design concept was selected to revitalize the development, which includes a historic art deco building and several multi-story facades overlooking a street and plaza. Following a comprehensive inventory and assessment, OCULUS developed a compelling plan that injects new energy into the district, significantly enhancing all exterior spaces.

To add visual interest to the existing facades, OCULUS proposed a bold palette of vibrant color and several large-scale murals to capture the excitement of the new vision for the development. Expanding on the existing plaza at the heart of the project, the existing private street is slated to be closed to vehicular traffic and reinvented as a pedestrian way. Turf-like surfaces promote active and passive recreation, with an eclectic mix of movable furniture and lawn games inspiring people to hang out in the space. Intricately patterned stone paving, new plantings, and outdoor café spaces populate the plaza, which is opened to a variety of uses by relocating an intrusive elevator tower and stair to its periphery.

Accommodating proposed performances while maintaining flexibility in the plaza, custom wood benches on steel rails can be configured into a large, covered stage while a nearby coiled metal water feature evoke and interpret the city’s identity of Silver Spring.

OCULUS as the project lead is responsible for coordinating civil engineering, lighting design, site-wide artwork installation, and architectural revisions. The project is currently undergoing Site Plan approvals with the County and construction is scheduled to begin in early 2020.


Silver Spring, MD