Letter: CA's headquarters should not be in Symphony Woods

During the 1960s I worked, as an architect-planner, with Jim Rouse, Bill Finley and Mort Hoppenfeld creating the plan for Columbia. In the Town Center land use plan what we now call Symphony Woods was designated as a permanent public open space Town Center Park. Now as a 45-year involved resident I urge the community, CA and the County to seriously consider and act on the following:

The Symphony Woods CA Park Plan must be implemented as approved by CA and Howard County. If and when the McCall concept finally shakes out, its location east of the Music Pavilion is compatible with and depends on the adjacent CA Park Plan. Located between Little Patuxent Parkway and the Music Pavilion, the CA Park Plan is a gateway access from mall parking and Little Patuxent Parkway to the Music Pavilion and to the McCall concept. This through-the-park access enjoys walkable linkages from residential neighborhoods, is more pleasant, more active, more safe, more realistic and far less expensive than access from McCall's remote garage-bridge.

The worst possible location for the CA HQ building is to be hidden away in Symphony Woods. The CA HQ is Columbia's City Hall and as such must be highly visible and easily accessible to the public —exactly the way it is right now. Nothing is worse than a dead office building amongst evening and weekend cultural events in a park.

There is once again talk about building a large library-parking and other large cultural buildings-parking in Symphony Woods along Little Patuxent Parkway. This is illegal and contrary to the 1965 Columbia Plan and approved Town Center plan where Symphony Woods is a permanent public open space. Large buildings will destroy the park forever. Only well-designed small park-scale arts and entertainment structures served by limited surface parking among the trees and adjacent shared parking should be allowed.

Robert Tennenbaum FAIA AICP


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