Clark Enterprises wants to bring some green to the park outside the Bethesda Metro station.

The Bethesda-based construction and development company is pitching a plan to develop the hardscape surrounding the fountain outside the station into a civic green, complete with architectural columns, more seating, shade structures, bocce ball courts and ping pong tables.

Clark hired the architectural firm Cooper Carry, which designed Bethesda Row, to create preliminary plans for the proposal.

David Kitchens, the architect, said the plaza is currently divided into multi-level steps that make it difficult to navigate.

“There’s a lot of things that handicap it,” Kitchens said in an interview Monday evening.

He said the idea is to slope the ground to mold it to the elevation of the plaza that will create more open space and provide an area for event programming. An effort would also be made to better connect the area with the nearby county parking lot and the green space behind the Metropolitan apartment building, according to Kitchens.

Advertisement

“I would like to see the park more active and enhance the retail around it,” said Kitchens. “There’s a grand opportunity for enlivening retail more.”

Representatives of Brookfield Properties, which owns 3 Bethesda Metro Center, the large white building near the plaza, said Wednesday morning at a planning forum its working on a plan to make the retail area near the plaza more attractive.

Ideas pitched include a Bethesda Row-style retail alley and developing the plaza with park space. Simon Carney, of Brookfield, said their ideas are very similar to what Kitchens is proposing on behalf of Clark.    

Advertisement

While the plan likely would make the mostly brick space more inviting, Clark currently doesn’t have the authority to implement its plan because the company does not own the park land. The plaza is owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Kitchens said they have not discussed the plan yet with WMATA. The metro operator leases the plaza to Brookfield Properties, which it says has the right to develop it with WMATA’s consent.

Clark owns a building that adjoins the space and a spokeswoman described the plan as a “friend of the court” brief, in which the company is pitching the idea and hoping it gains traction.

Kitchens said they have involved the Bethesda Urban Partnership and other civic groups in the creation of design principles for the park. Those include contributing to Bethesda’s green space network, providing a multi-functional space and emphasizing retail businesses adjacent to the park.

Advertisement

Cooper Carry proposed two concepts in its designs—one includes activities such as bocce and ping pong and lots of trees, while the other one puts an emphasis on open green space and shaded structures.

County planners have said they’re working to expand civic gathering spaces, and have told Bethesda Beat they’re looking for ways to increase activity around the Metro station.

Concept A:

Advertisement

Concept B:

Advertisement

Current Design:

Advertisement

 

Editor’s Note: The third reference of Cooper Carry was originally spelled Cooper Cary, it has been fixed.