Smart Growth Illustrated
King Farm, Rockville, Maryland
As a high-density, walkable, mixed-use community, King Farm in Rockville, Maryland, takes full advantage of the wide variety of current and future transportation choices at or near the site. The Shady Grove Metro station is just across Frederick Road from the King Farm community. The Metro provides rail access to Rockville, Bethesda, and much of the Washington metropolitan area. King Farm operates private shuttle buses in a continuous loop, Monday through Friday, to the Shady Grove Metro station for residents, guests, and employees of King Farm's businesses.
Buses running along Frederick Road and converging at the Metro station provide access to much of the northern part of Montgomery County. A proposed Corridor Cities Transitway will provide light rail or bus rapid transit from the Metro station, through King Farm, continuing through Gaithersburg, Clarksburg and possibly all the way to Frederick, Maryland. Interstate 270, Maryland's Technology Corridor, is just a short drive away from the King Farm office buildings. In addition, parks, schools, and the Metro station are linked to the neighborhoods and surrounding communities by a series of bike paths.
The Montgomery County Parks and Planning Commission understood the benefits of transit-oriented development when it allowed the developer, King Farm Associates, to build 3,200 homes on the 430-acre site. This makes King Farm's gross residential density more than three times that of the city of Rockville. The higher density housing of apartments and condominiums, along with up to 2.2 million square feet of commercial space, is laid out in a "T" near the Metro station and along the route of the proposed Transitway. Further away from the public transit, the housing shifts to townhouse and single-family, detached homes. The Village Center is a mix of 120,000 square feet of neighborhood retail along with 49 apartment units and is located at a possible stop for the future Transitway.
Generous sidewalks, narrow streets, and an interconnected street grid make walking within King Farm very easy. Most of the parking for apartments, offices, and stores is on the street, behind buildings, or in parking structures to make the streets more pleasant for walking. Larger buildings are on or near the lot line, and pedestrian pass-throughs allow easy access to parking lots from the street. Even the gas station is designed for pedestrians. Instead of the usual pattern of pumps in front and store in back, the "gas backward" design at King Farm brings the convenience store to the corner for easy pedestrian access.
All this density could create a very sterile environment, but over one-quarter of the land has been reserved for parks and open space. Buffered corridors protect streams and stormwater ponds. Two city parks of 12 and 28 acres provide recreation facilities for the city, and a five-acre heritage park preserves most of the original dairy farm buildings for arts and education. Numerous pocket parks, squares, and commons put community meeting spaces and green space within a short walking distance of every resident.
In 2001, King Farm won a Charter Award from the Congress for the New Urbanism.