The Montgomery County, Maryland, Department of Parks operates five nature education facilities. In 2019, they sought outside help to evaluate their network to determine “where new nature centers or renovations should be constructed within the park system.” This major effort required county-wide GIS analysis; public outreach; surveys, focus groups, and other constituent involvement; programmatic needs analysis; assessment of existing sites, buildings, and operations; architectural evaluations; cost estimates; and more.
Because of the project’s sweeping scope, I worked with a team that included international planning firm Design Workshop, GWWO Architects of Baltimore, and several other companies. Together we completed demographic analyses of the county; site, architectural, and program reviews; an assessment of competitors; and many other elements of the project scope. The public engagement component was about to begin when gatherings of all kinds were cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the project was brought to an early end, we produced and submitted a detailed needs assessment report as a foundation for future work.