On a much grander scale, public art displays and design have become an integral part of urban planning. When it became apparent to concerned citizens a few years ago that developers planned to construct quite a few multistory buildings in downtown Bethesda, there were those who saw an artless urban wasteland evolving. Bethesda, it seemed, was slated to become yet another glass-and-concrete satellite city. But the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission saw what was coming, too, and reached an agreement with the developers: In exchange for high-density development, the developers would allow for "public amenities" such as gardens, plazas, sculptures and fountains, all designed to complement the existing landscape architecture.
Some of the resulting projects will be detailed at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Public Arts Symposium, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church (8011 Old Georgetown Rd.). "Teams" -- architect, artist, art consultant and landscape architect -- for 10 different downtown Bethesda projects will discuss their plans, explaining how the art was conceptualized and showing slides depicting the planned artworks. This is an opportunity to meet the minds behind the works -- James Sanborn, Rockne Krebs and Yuriko Yamaguchi will be among those present. Call 495-4600 for additional information.