A rendering of the new Bethesda Metro Center plaza as envisioned by Brookfield Credit: Via Brookfield Property Partners

A vision of a revitalized Bethesda Metro Center Plaza—accompanied by a lawn where people can gather for outdoor movies and a promenade lined with dining areas and storefronts—will come before a design panel next week.

The April 25 meeting is an early step in the development process for Brookfield Property Partners, which is looking to build a high rise of up to 500,000 square feet on the existing Metro plaza. The proposed tower will go up in place of the former food court building, a three-story structure attached to 3 Bethesda Metro Center.

The developer hasn’t decided whether the 290-foot-tall high-rise will be primarily housing or office space, but Brookfield is already refining its strategy for filling the plaza with activity.

“The proposed building has been strategically designed to help frame the Metro Plaza in order to provide a well-defined space, while simultaneously preserving the views of Wisconsin Avenue and Old Georgetown Road,” the submission stated.

The developer has submitted the materials to the Montgomery County planning department ahead of its meeting with the Bethesda Downtown Design Advisory Panel, a group of architects and community members who offer guidance on project plans.

Rendering of central lawn as proposed by Brookfield. Credit: Brookfield.

Illustration of the retail promenade. Credit: Brookfield.

Rendering of the proposed gallery space. Credit: Brookfield.

In the plan, the reconfigured plaza offering Metro access would be located along Wisconsin Avenue and invite people to wander deeper into the site. The proposal also calls for a central lawn adjacent to 3 Bethesda Metro Center, an area where fitness programs and outdoor movies could take place. A retail promenade planned to run from the lawn to the Metro plaza would act as a walkway and a destination, according to the plan. Between 3 Bethesda Metro Center and the new building, a “gallery” area would serve as a quiet relaxing space where workers could eat lunch or chat.

Brookfield wants to add art installations in an “activity zone” near the convergence of the lawn and promenade, according to the proposal.

Meanwhile, Clark Enterprises, which has a building overlooking the plaza, has presented an alternative idea for revitalizing the space. The company has argued Brookfield’s design would isolate much of the open space between buildings, away from foot traffic near the street. Clark’s design would position the central lawn and plaza next to Wisconsin Avenue.  

Brookfield’s meeting with the design panel is open to the public and scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. April 25 at the Montgomery County planning headquarters at 8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.

Layout of open space as proposed by Brookfield (click to expand.

An image of Clark Enterprises’ proposed layout for open space and a new building at the Bethesda Metro Center Plaza. Credit: Clark Enterprises and Sasaki Associates.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.