HABS NO. MD-1216 Page 3
The Springhill Lake development originated in this era of intense growth and signaled a transition between the planned, even isolated, Old Greenbelt and the coming private development that would irreversibly change the city’s character. Designed by distinguished Washington, DC, architects Cohen Haft and Associates, the garden apartment complex was constructed in phases over the course of 7 years. Springhill Lake comprised nearly 2900 housing units on approximately 150 acres on the far west side of Greenbelt and was reputed to be the largest garden apartment development on the East Coast at the time of its construction. Incorporating apartments and townhouses integrated into a verdant landscape, the Springhill Lake complex intensified the inclusion of modernist designs into suburban settings while acknowledging the form that predominated in the first two phases of Greenbelt’s development. In addition, Springhill Lake was made economically feasible by the federal government’s construction of the Capital Beltway, Interstate 495, to facilitate traffic around the growing capital area.
Not only mimicking Old Greenbelt’s physical form, the developers, Community Builders, Inc., also planned social and retail services for their residents in order to help build a spirit of community. The Springhill Lake Community Center, also designed by Cohen Haft and Associates, provided opportunities for games, dancing, music and instruction on various forms of recreation. The development also included area for an elementary school, later built by Prince George’s County, and a retail shopping center. In this way, Springhill Lake was a sensitive addition to the city of Greenbelt that greatly expanded the population of one of the most significant planned communities of the twentieth century.
LaDale Curtis Winling, Summer 2005
This project was sponsored by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), within the Heritage Documentation Program of the National Park Service; it was made possible through the Sally Kress Tompkins Fellowship, an award established by HABS and the Society of Architectural Historians to recognize and encourage the historical research of emerging scholars. The project was guided by Lisa P. Davidson, HABS historian and Chair of the Sally Kress Tompkins fellowship committee, and consisted of written history and large format photographs. Dale Winling (University of Michigan), awardee of the Sally Kress Tompkins fellowship and project historian, produced the documentation, along with James Rosenthal, HABS photographer, during the summer of 2005.