HABS NO. MD-1216 Page 10
Administration and helped guide the Suburban Resettlement Division’s planning efforts for the green towns, including Greenbelt. 31
Springhill Lake’s apartments are heir to this tradition stemming from Ebenezer Howard’s garden cities ideal, the town planning of Raymond Unwin in Great Britain and continuing through Stein and Wright’s design work. The Springhill Lake development demonstrates the increasingly suburban nature of development, characteristic of this post-war period, wherein an urban type could, because of the availability of inexpensive land outside urban areas, be expanded to accommodate thousands of residents.
Three chief building forms predominate throughout the residential area of Springhill Lake, fitting into two categories -- townhouses and low-rise apartment buildings. Of the 371 residential buildings in Springhill Lake, 251 are low-rise apartment buildings and 120 are townhouses. Of the two low-rise apartment building forms, each has similar arrangement of residential units. Two parallel wings of 3 stories are joined by a central stairwell enclosed by window walls or large areas of glazing. The extensive use of metal-sash windows transfers light to the interior and makes the central area both visually permeable and transparent. In some cases, a viewer can look through the building to the opposite side. The treatment and detailing of this central stairway is the chief distinction between the “plain” and “countoured” forms. In the majority of cases – the “plain” façade – the main elevation wall surfaces of the two wings and central entrance are nearly flush and the flat roof line continuous. The most distinctive breaks to this continuity are the balconies on second- and third-floor units, offering a shaded, recessed space beneath the building’s roof. (figure) The contoured façade buildings have a more distinct recess at the central entrance, emphasized by a lower roof height at the central hyphen. As a result, the wings are visually separated from the central entrance and stairway. Instead of the continuous façade of the plain buildings, the entrance and stairway is recessed and does not serve to visually or socially join the two residential wings. (figure)
In addition to the residential buildings, community buildings also make important visual and social contributions in the development. The retail center, the Fountain Lodge, the Springhill Lake Elementary School, and the Springhill Lake retail center were all buildings designed by Cohen Haft. The retail center comprises two brick buildings, one a two-story building of offices and the other a large single-story building built for retail space. The two buildings are arranged in a rough “L” shape around a small green yard. The main façade of the office building is defined by a brick arcade – covered walkways on each level stretching from one end of the building to the other in front of the offices, supported by brick columns. The other three elevations of the office building are windowless brick walls arranged in running bond. The retail building also has three simple, flat, brick facades, while the main façade facing the green is characterized by a large glass section – about a quarter of the façade – allowing visitors to see inside from the exterior.
The Fountain Lodge, originally serving as the development’s community center, overlooks the man-made Springhill Lake and one of the complex’s community pools. The two-story building was, like the residential buildings, designed in a contemporary style, but has been altered to give it a more classical feel. The original design featured two soaring cantilevered roof planes
Clarence Stein. Toward New Towns for America. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1957): 120.