On The Boards / Merit
Weihe Design Group's graceful concept for the fusion of a business district and a residential neighborhood won praise from our judges. Set in the heart of Bethesda, Md., a Washington, D.C., suburb, the project encompasses the restoration of an Art Deco-era movie theater on the main thoroughfare and, behind it, the addition of an 11-story apartment tower, a four-story apartment building, and nine town houses.
To avoid detracting from the theater's distinctive marquee, the architects set the high-rise apartment building back 25 feet from the street and spanned the theater with two-story steel trusses. A landscaped pedestrian plaza and a walkway connect the retail area with the residential community. WDG's strategy for the transition included moving from high to low buildings, with the town houses facing existing single-family homes. "We broke up the massing by using different levels of details to make the town houses and apartments look smaller," Morris says. The judges applauded the effort, saying, "There's a compelling argument it would work."