Planning and Zoning Awards and Presentations

This page provides information on presentations given and awards received by the Department of Planning and Zoning.

Page updated on Sep 26, 2019 at 1:12 PM

City of Alexandria Recognized for New Landscape Guidelines, 2019

The City of Alexandria’s new landscape guidelines were recently recognized with a Communications Merit Award from the Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, citing “excellence, exemplary performance, or significant achievement in communicating landscape architecture works, techniques, technologies, history, or theory.” Stephanie Free, Urban Planner with the Department of Planning and Zoning, accepted the award on September 20 at the Chapter’s Annual Award Ceremony in Virginia Beach.

The new landscape guidelines, approved in February, emphasize increasing the use of native plants and ensuring biodiversity, with an equally strong emphasis on selecting, planting, and caring for plants for long-term survivability. The guidelines are part of a broader City initiative to ramp up its commitment to address the urgent challenge of climate change with a new, more cutting-edge approach to ensuring that new buildings and landscaped areas are as “green” as possible. The new green building policy adopted by City Council in June set the high expectation that new public buildings will meet “net zero energy” standards and meet higher stormwater requirements than new private development.

For new private development, the City raised the green building standard for residential development from “certified” to “silver,” matching the current requirement for non-residential buildings. Innovative elements of the new policy include targeting reduction of energy and water use, improving indoor air quality, and making it easier for developers to meet the City’s environmental goals using any of the three leading third-party green building systems: LEED, Green Globes, and Earthcraft.


National Capital Area Chapter, American Planning Association Conference, 2019

Jeffrey Farner, Deputy Director Department of Planning and Zoning, and Jose C. Ayala, Urban Planner, Department Planning and Zoning, presented Eisenhower East - The Ecology of a Human-Centric Urban Environment at the NCAC-APA in September. The presentation communicated how the planning process influences the transition from a car-centric area to a more walkable human-centric environment and illustrated how essential urban planning principles were considered in creating an active urban environment.


Virginia Chapter, American Planning Association Conference, 2019

Maya Contreras, Principal Planner, Department of Planning and Zoning, Ken Wire, land use attorney with WireGill, and Erika Gulick, Senior Planner, Alexandria City Public Schools, presented Resilient Building Conversions - Successful Building Conversions in Alexandria at this year's conference. This joint presentation addressed the adaptive reuse of a former office building that was converted to an elementary school. The presentation included discussion on lessons learned and recommended best practices for others going forward.


National Capital Area Chapter, American Planning Association Conference, 2018 

Helen McIlvaine, Director of Housing, Urban Planner Ashley Labadie with the Department of Planning and Zoning, Mike Hawkins, Managing Director of Community Outreach for the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA), and Jim Simmons, Partner at Ares Management LLC, presented Maximizing Affordable Housing Options in Alexandria at the NCAC Conference in October 2018. The presentation focused on local affordable housing issues and strategies to address them through the South Patrick Street Housing Affordability Strategy, adopted in September 2018. With key stakeholders at the table, a proactive approach toward preserving housing affordability in one of Alexandria’s oldest neighborhoods avoids potential permanent displacement of hundreds of low-income city residents. 

Through her presentation, Art x Design, Urban Planner Heba El Gawish highlighted how the City of Alexandria, in the context of changing market conditions, is taking innovative approaches toward creating affordable arts spaces - going beyond pure economic rejuvenation by helping promote social equity, economic diversity and successful neighborhoods. The session explored how plans can protect the cultural heritage of a region and how public/private partnerships are helping to support arts and cultural spaces that can in turn be catalysts for economic vitality. 


City Receives Economic Development Award for Old Town North Arts and Cultural District, 2018

The Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association has awarded the City of Alexandria with the 2018 Terry Holzheimer Economic Development Award for the establishment of the Old Town North Arts and Cultural District. The Old Town North Small Area Plan, adopted by City Council in June 2017, prioritizes economic development and placemaking with recommended strategies for a balanced mix of uses, attraction of retail, arts and cultural uses, and creation of affordable housing options across all income levels. In April 2018, City Council approved the establishment of an Arts and Cultural District in Old Town North, one of the Plan’s implementation recommendations. The new Arts and Cultural District Overlay zoning text amendment outlines the incentives for the creation of arts and cultural spaces within the District. 


Makeover Montgomery 4, 2018

Heba ElGawish, Urban Planner, with the Department of Planning and Zoning, Austin Flajser, President, Carr Companies and Carolyn Griffin, Producing Artistic Director, MetroStage, presented Art x Design at the 2018 Makeover Montgomery Conference. This session highlighted how the City of Alexandria, in the context of changing market conditions, is taking innovative approaches toward creating affordable arts spaces - going beyond pure economic rejuvenation by helping promote social equity, economic diversity and successful neighborhoods. The session explored the community engagement methods, policy regulations, zoning tools, and partnerships among government agencies, non-profit organizations and private sector developers leading to the creation of the Old Town North Arts and Cultural District.


Transport and Digital Development Global Practice Team of the World Bank, 2018

Jeff Farner, Deputy Director, and Richard Lawrence, Urban Planner, of the Department of Planning and Zoning presented From BIG Idea to TOD Reality: North Potomac Yard at the World Bank in May 2018. Discussion surrounded the North Potomac Yard Plan and its mission to link people and places by building a new inline Metrorail station - only the second in WMATA's 40+ year history. The connection enables and supports existing and planned mixed-use, transit-oriented development in one of the country's fastest growing corridors. The presentation explored integrated transit and transportation development, including the metro station and transitway, transit-oriented development and design; financing and funding major transportation infrastructure including, land value capture; and challenges posed and strategies from the BIG IDEA to implementation. 


    American Planning Association National Conference, 2018

    During the April 2018 National American Planning Association conference in New Orleans, Richard Lawrence and Mike Swidrak, Urban Planners with the Department of Planning and Zoning, presented Fostering Global Exchange in Sustainable Cities along with colleagues Max Gruenig and Brendan O'Donnell with the Ecologic Institute in Washington, D.C. and Katie Gerbes with the City of Hyattsville, MD. The presentation focused on how urban planners can identify best practices that can inform their work from beyond international borders. Discussion included examples of climate resiliency related information exchange and project implementation based on relationships between German and American planners and officials.


    Department of Planning and Zoning Receives Award from the George Washington (DC) Chapter of Lambda Alpha International, 2017 

    The Board of the George Washington (DC) Chapter of Lambda Alpha International (LAI) recognized the City's Department of Planning and Zoning with their 2017 “Outstanding Plan Award” for two plans: the Old Town North Small Area Plan and Urban Design Standards & Guidelines and the North Potomac Yard Small Area Plan. Both of these plans were completed in 2017; the Board noted that “both plans exemplified good planning and chose to give the award to the Department for them.”

    Lambda Alpha is an honorary professional society devoted to the advancement of land economics and is composed of men and women involved in the fields of real estate, real estate development, real estate management, land use, urban planning, architecture, law, government, academia, and all other professions that deal with the use, study, and economics of land. The organization was founded in 1930 and has over 20 chapters around the world.

    The awards were presented October 18, 2017 in Washington, DC.


    National Capital Area Chapter, American Planning Association Conference, 2017

    Jeff Farner, Deputy Director, and urban planners Richard Lawrence and Jose Ayala with the Department of Planning and Zoning presented Keeping the Big Idea Alive during the NCAC Conference in October 2017. The presentation addressed the long-term vision for Potomac Yard including challenges and strategies, culminating in the update of the North Potomac Yard Plan and mission to link people and places by building a new inline Metrorail station - only the second in WMATA's 40+ year history. This connection enables and supports existing and planned mixed-use, transit-oriented development in one of the country's fastest growing corridors.


    National Forum for Black Public Administrators, 2017

    In this April 2017 Forum,  Brandi Collins, Office of Housing, Richard Lawrence, Department of Planning and Zoning, and Brian Jackson with EYA, presented Promoting Equitable Communities: Successful Strategies to Preserve and Promote Affordable Housing in High-Priced Markets – An Alexandria, Virginia Case Study. The presentation explored the challenges of housing affordability in high priced real estate markets such as the DC-Metropolitan Area. The session provided local case studies, tools and strategies utilized by the City, and provided the private developer perspective of creating and financing mixed-income affordable housing projects. 


    City Receives Outstanding Plan Award for the Eisenhower West Small Area Plan, 2016

    In July 2016, the American Planning Association Virginia Chapter recognized the City of Alexandria’s Eisenhower West Small Area Plan with a 2016 Outstanding Plan Award. The Eisenhower West Plan was adopted by City Council in November 2015 after a 22-month long community engagement effort, spearheaded by the Eisenhower West Steering Committee. This Plan was also awarded the 2016 Excellence in Sustainability Award by the American Planning Association at the national conference in April 2016. Implementation of the Plan will be guided by the Eisenhower West/Landmark Van Dorn Implementation Advisory Group beginning in the Fall of 2016.


    Eisenhower West Small Area Plan Wins National American Planning Association Award, 2016

    The Eisenhower West Small Area Plan won the best “Sustainable Urban Design or Preservation Plan or Project” award from the American Planning Association on Sunday, April 3, 2016. The “Excellence in Sustainability” award is sponsored by three divisions of the American Planning Association (the Sustainable Communities Division, the Urban Design & Preservation Division, and the International Division). News release.


    National Trust for Historic Preservation PastForward Conference, 2015

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation held the PastForward 2015 conference from November 3-6, 2015, which included programming that celebrates and honors the past while looking decisively forward toward the next 50 years. Historic Preservation Planners from P&Z hosted field sessions with a diverse and expansive constituency of preservationists - from individuals to elected officials, federal agencies to architects, scholars to activists.

    Michele Oaks and Mary Catherine Collins hosted a field session entitled "There's an App for That! Mobile Data Collection in Alexandria". Traditional surveys require significant man-hours in the field - utilizing methods such as paper forms, hand drawn maps, and cameras.  As these surveys are no longer feasible, particularly with limited funding and many resources in need of rapid evaluation and re-evaluation, historic preservationists are turning to modern technology to assist in streamlining this workflow.  In this field session, City of Alexandria and National Park Service staff introduced participants to a new, mobile collector application which they are jointly creating for surveying cultural resources.  Following a project overview and a brief training session, participants were divided into small teams and utilized this new application to complete an architectural survey of Alexandria’s renowned 18th and 19th century resources.  This session also included an introduction to the National Park Service Cultural Resource Data Transfer Standards and its associated data set. 

    Al Cox, Audrey Davis (Alexandria Black History Center), Ann Horowitz, Catherine Miliaras and Stephanie Sample hosted a day-long field session entitled “A Tale of Two Old Towns: The Parker-Gray District”, which explored Alexandria's two local historic districts, Old Town and Parker Gray — how they came to be districts, how they have evolved, and current projects and challenges. The session included the presentation and walking tours.


    National Capital Area Chapter, American Planning Association Conference, 2015

    In the June 2015 NCAC-APA Conference, Carrie Beach, Division Chief, and Radhika Mohan, Principal Planner, Neighborhood Planning and Community Development, presented "Talk to Me: Fostering Dialogue in Today's World"

    In 2013, the City of Alexandria paused from its small area planning projects to initiate What’s Next Alexandria, an effort to develop civic engagement principles with the community. The result was Alexandria’s Handbook for Civic Engagement, which outlines a process for citizen participation in city projects of all sizes from recreational facility upgrades to small area plans to city budget input. The presentation explored the process of developing the handbook and guidelines, how it was used in subsequent city budgeting efforts, and how it was implemented in developing the Eisenhower West Small Area Plan. Attendees gained an understanding of the challenges and opportunities in navigating new engagement techniques with residents and across citywide departments.


    American Planning Association National Conference, 2015

    Karl Moritz, Director of Planning and Zoning, and Jay Brinson, Regional Vice President for Brailsford & Dunlavey, Inc., presented "Millennial Families in the City: The New Urban School" during APA's National Conference in April. The sudden increase of students in Washington, D.C.’s urban communities sheds light on the trend for more Millennial families to stay in the city. This presentation explored key planning concepts and innovative models for urban schools and introduced practical tools for creating family-friendly urban neighborhoods. 


    National Association of Preservation Commissions, Forum in Philadelphia, PA, 2014

    During the NAPC's Philadelphia Forum in 2014, Urban Planners with the Division of Historic Preservation presented two sessions to fellow planners, architects, educators, and practitioners.

    Michele Oaks and Mary Catherine Collins gave a presentation on the City of Alexandria's Historic Resource Mobile Architectural Survey. The presentation explored future historic resource survey tools. Participants had a chance to see first-hand how the City of Alexandria and the National Park Service are leveraging the power of GIS and mobile technology to create a mobile application that will significantly streamline current workflows, reduce survey man hours, and assist in sharing information with other agencies and the public.

    Catherine Miliaras and Stephanie Sample presented "Alexandria's Parker-Gray District: A Generation Later", a case study of the intended and unintended consequences of making a historic district. By their very nature, locally regulated historic districts can be used as a broader planning tool, because they are not required to strictly adhere to national historic preservation criteria. Local districts have more room for flexibility and provide for an expanded meaning of “preservation.” While other planning tools, such as conservation districts or form-based codes, can also be effective design review, they do not consider cultural and historic significance. The strength of a local district is a review board that continues to adapt to changing circumstances to remain relevant and effective while fulfilling a community’s “preservation” values. Other localities looking to create new local historic districts or to re-evaluate existing historic districts and regulations can learn from the evolution of the Parker-Gray District.


    South Carlyle Plaza Development Wins Prestigious Award, 2014 

    The South Carlyle Plaza development was awarded the 2014 Traveling Award for Analysis and Planning by the American Society of Landscape Architects, Potomac Chapter. The award recognized the project's ambitious program of interwoven public parkland, mixed-use development and municipal services. The project harnessed landscape strategies to cap a contaminated site and transform an elevated parking deck into a vibrant public space that folds down to engage the civic realm through an arrangement of ramps, stairs, stormwater filtration components, and overlooks. This uncommon combination of program components was triggered by the simultaneous development of plans for a new mixed-use community on the northern half of the site and the expansion of the existing Alexandria ReNew municipal wastewater treatment plant onto the southern half of the site. The resulting plan created an expansive park located over wastewater treatment tanks and an above-grade parking garage creating public space that establishes vital connections in a local network of parkland and trails. For more information on this project, visit the Carlyle/Eisenhower East webpage


    John Komoroske Awarded Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Citizen Planning Award, 2014

    John Komoroske, former chairman, Vice Chairman and member of the Alexandria Planning Commission, was awarded an Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Citizen Planning Award by the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association. Mr. Komoroske served the City of Alexandria as a citizen planner for nearly three decades. He served on the Planning Commission for over 24 years, including four years as chairman and four years as vice chairman. During his tenure on the Planning Commission, Mr. Komoroske greatly impacted the development of the city in the review and approval of numerous small area plans, including the Braddock Metro Station Small Area Plan, the Landmark VanDorn Corridor Plan, the North Potomac Yard Small Area Plan, the Beauregard Small Area Plan and the Waterfront Small Area Plan. 


    Planning and Zoning Participates in Local and National Conferences, 2013

    • National Building Museum's "DC Builds" Series Panel Discussion
      This Panel Discussion was sponsored by ULI and the National Building Museum under the DC BuildsLecture Series and it featured invited panelists from DC, Virginia and Maryland who spoke to a capacity audience. The focus of the discussion was how the region is working to engage with its rivers and share what’s needed to protect these valuable natural resources while providing places to live, work, and play along their banks. Planning Commission member Nathan Macek was part of the distinguished panel of speakers and a American Society of Landscape Architects’ blog, The Dirt http://dirt.asla.org/. Among the other panelists were DC Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning, Prince George’s County Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Howard Ways; Forest City Vice President Alex Nyhan, Georgetown BID CEO Joe Sternlieb and ULI Senior Vice President Uwe Brandes as moderator. 
    • P&Z Impresses at the American Planning Association National Conference
      The Department of Planning and Zoning (P&Z) made a great showing at the American Planning Association National Conference in Chicago presenting three sessions to planners, architects, educators, and practitioners from all over the country and various parts of the world. Between the three sessions around 500 participants attended and were highly interested and engaged in the great work the City has been doing.

      “The Post Mall World: Recreating Historic Downtowns”, led by then P&Z Director Faroll Hamer, discussed elements that help to preserve, strengthen, and sustain historic downtowns (scale, character, continuity, multi-modal, mix of uses) and approaches to transforming declining shopping centers (property management, maintenance, programming, and event management) that are applied together to create vibrant places upon redevelopment.

      "Remedy Meets Reality: Strip Malls Transformed", presented by P&Z Deputy Director Jeffrey Farner, furthered Faroll’s discussion identifying elements of a planning toolkit that must be applied in the redevelopment of strip malls/large redevelopment sites. Applying development economics and the reality of economic scenarios that allow redevelopment to be successful, Jeff presented North Potomac Yard as a case study.

      Finally, Karl Moritz, then P&Z Deputy Director, presented “Calculating Developer Contributions: A Value Capture Clinic” discussing how municipalities can recapture value through developer contributions and other financing mechanisms. Particular emphasis was given to the inclusion of development financing as part of the planning process for rezonings/master plans. A few of Alexandria’s recent plans were explored including Beauregard, North Potomac Yard, Braddock, and Landmark/Van Dorn Corridor Plan.

      The opportunity to present at the national conference is a very competitive and highly selective process which required the hard work of a team of P&Z staff members over the last year. Special recognition is awarded to Faroll Hamer, Jeff Farner, Karl Moritz, Nathan Imm, Amy Friedlander, and Richard Lawrence for their hard work preparing the sessions. 

    • P&Z at APA-NCAC Conference
      Immediately following their showing at the American Planning Association National Conference in Chicago, the Department of Planning & Zoning was invited to present two sessions at the National Capital Chapter (NCAC) Conference in Washington, DC on June 1, 2013: “Calculating Developer Contributions: A Value Capture Clinic” again presented by Karl Mortiz, and "The Reality of Providing Mixed-Use Development, Transit, and Affordable Housing: Beauregard - A Case Study" - presented by Jeff Farner, Mark Jinks, then Deputy City Manager, and Amy Friedlander, Urban Planner. Presenters discussed the challenges and realities of redevelopment that are mixed-use, transit-oriented, and maintain levels of affordability with particular emphasis given on process, design, community engagement and participation, financing, and implementation.

      The two sessions highlighted successful projects and policy initiatives implemented throughout the city. The opportunity to present is a highly selective process which required the hard work and coordination by a team of P&Z staff members. Special recognition was given to Jeff Farner, Amy Friedlander, Karl Moritz and Richard Lawrence for their work preparing the sessions. 

    American Planning Association Designates King Street One of the "Top 10 Great Streets", 2011

    The American Planning Association (APA) designated King Street as one of 10 Great Streets for 2011 under the organization’s Great Places in America program. APA Great Places exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value.

    “King Street has been a Great Street since 1749. Through each subsequent era, King Street has successfully maintained its significance as Alexandria's commercial center and gathering place, thanks to careful planning, community involvement, and historic preservation,” said Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille.

    APA singled out King Street as a bustling hub of activity – a place where people gather to celebrate, conduct business, explore the past, or simply enjoy a view of the Potomac River. The street’s Colonial past is in evidence today due to a variety of foresighted protections adopted by Alexandria since its inception 262 years ago.

    To formally announce this prestigious award, a celebration was held at the intersection of King and Union Streets on October 4, 2011, featuring music, performers, art, and food. Mayor Euille, members of Alexandria City Council, and the City of Alexandria were presented with the award by the APA.

    Through Great Places in America, APA recognizes unique and authentic characteristics found in three essential components of all communities – streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces. APA Great Places offer better choices for where and how people work and live every day and are defined by many things including planning efforts, architectural styles, accessibility, and community involvement. Since APA began Great Places in America in 2007, 50 Neighborhoods, 50 Streets and 40 Public Spaces have been designated in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    For more information about the 2011 APA Great Streets, 10 Great Neighborhoods and 10 Great Public Spaces designations, visit www.planning.org/greatplaces.


    City of Alexandria Receives American Planning Association Award, 2007: National Capital Area Chapter Cites Station at Potomac Yard As Innovative Solution to Affordable Housing

    The City of Alexandria received an award from the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Planning Association (NCAC-APA) for its design of The Station at Potomac Yard, which will be the first newly constructed fire station in the United States to combine a fire station, affordable housing and retail in a single mixed-use building. The award was presented at NCAC-APA’s 60th Annual Anniversary and Awards Gala on Thursday, November 8, 2007.

    The Station at Potomac Yard, the first fire station to be built in Alexandria in 30 years, was the first civic building established in Potomac Yard.

    A public/private partnership, consisting of the City of Alexandria, Potomac Yard Development (a private developer), and the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (a not-for-profit housing group), was created to build the project. The impetus for locating housing above the fire station was the opportunity to maximize the developer’s contribution for affordable housing in Potomac Yard. By locating the housing above the fire station, the City did not have to pay for the cost of land, which freed the full amount of the developer contribution as leverage for low-income housing tax credits.

    The NCAC-APA awards panel noted that the collaboration of City agencies to coordinate their facility planning was an innovative response to using scarce public land in an efficient and effective way to meet community needs. In particular, the panel cited the use of air rights over the fire station to provide for affordable housing as an inspired approach that could serve as a model for other jurisdictions in the region.

    “Communities in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. region increasingly face the challenge of providing affordable housing,” said Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille. “Through the Station at Potomac Yard, Alexandria is demonstrating that locating workforce housing above essential public facilities can be a creative solution for addressing the challenge of providing affordable housing.”

    For more information on the Potomac Yard project, please visit www.alexandriava.gov/potomacyard


    City of Alexandria Awarded for Mixed Income Housing Redevelopment, 2005

    The National Capital Area Chapter (NCAC) of the American Planning Association presented the City of Alexandria with the 2005 Housing Choice and Affordability Award for its Samuel Madden Homes/Chatham Square redevelopment project. Then Planning Director Eileen Fogarty accepted the award on November 8, 2005 at the NCAC Chapter Gala in Washington, DC, on behalf of the Mayor and City Council, along with the Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority (ARHA) and the private development firm Eakin Youngentob & Associates (EYA), the team that created the mixed income housing redevelopment project.


    Eisenhower East Small Area Plan Wins Planning Award, 2004

    The American Planning Association - Virginia Chapter recognized the City’s planning efforts as reflecting innovative and high quality planning with the 2004 Outstanding Master Plan Award for the Eisenhower East Small Area Plan. The award specifically recognized the creative approach for transit-oriented development as one that could be applied to other cities.





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