Project Details

  • Type:
  • Commercial
  • Location:
  • Montgomery Village, MD
  • Client:
  • Completed:
  • September, 2004


Creating a safe, welcoming space for autistic people called for rethinking the paradigms of design. Before designing the new headquarters for Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children (CSAAC) and master planning for future growth, Wiencek + Associates Architects + Planners listened to the experiences of those with autism and their support network, and joined listserves to learn what affects their architectural experience. Hence, the building works in simple color palettes with minimal visual barriers that can be difficult for a severely autistic person to cross. Soft lighting careful HVAC design strive to eliminate distracting noises. The building is a series of wings of small scale, with lots of soft natural daylight and a constant frame of reference to the outdoors. The wings form a gentle arc, reinforcing the small, quiet scale. Entries are inside the arc away from the road, as autistic children may flee towards open space. The splayed "backside" of the building facing the street is a series of serpentine garden walls and planters to enhance the natural experience along an adjoining bicycle path.