Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NIST Gaithersburg Master Plan

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) maintains a master plan and associated environmental assessment for its 579-acre headquarters campus located in Gaithersburg, MD.

The master plan provides a framework for the future physical development of the campus to ensure that NIST continues to meet its mission of promoting U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology.   The plan focuses on research buildings by modernizing existing laboratories and infrastructure to support current and future research, and by adding new research facilities for planned programs.  It also addresses security, roads and  campus gates, parking, pedestrian circulation, the landscape, storm water management, the site utilities infrastructure, energy conservation and sustainability.  

In 2016, the entire NIST Gaithersburg campus was named an "Historic District."  The designation recognizes NIST's important contributions to science and technology and the campus as a significant example of post-WWII mid-century research campus design.  The central concept for the master plan reinforces the original campus plan, adapting the earlier buildings to modern needs and placing new buildings in locations and configurations that respect the linear pattern of the original plan.  The historic character of the campus and its buildings will continue be an important consideration as projects are implemented.

The master plan documents current needs as well as projected future requirements, and articulates a vision for sustainable campus development with proposed implementation phases over twenty years.  Existing buildings are renovated and new buildings carefully inserted within the campus core and elsewhere as needed including security improvements at the main campus gates, facilities in support of infrastructure improvements, and new research buildings.  The attractive campus environment is featured through natural and sustainable landscape enhancements and strengthened pedestrian connections.  

An environmental assessment (EA) was prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  The EA considers the effects of the "Proposed Action" (the master plan) and a "No Action" alternative on the natural and human environment, and includes proposed mitigation measures for anticipated impacts.  NIST has determined that no significant impacts to the environmental conditions of the NIST Gaithersburg campus and/or the surrounding community will result from implementation of the Master Plan (Proposed Action). 

Actual realization of the master plan, or any specific project within it, will depend on priorities of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Congressional and Presidential policy decisions, and federal budgetary decisions.

Master planning is the responsibility of the NIST Office of Facilities and Property Management. 

Planning Awards

The NIST Gaithersburg Master Plan was recognized In April 2020 with the 2019 Honor Award for the Federal Planning Project of the Year by the Federal Planning Division of the American Planning AssociationSpecifically, the award is bestowed upon the project that best represents the multiple and interdependent ideals of sustainability, historic preservation, quality urban design, innovative problem solving, community engagement and coordinated transportation planning processes at a single Federal site. 

NIST received the first Smart Growth Excellence, Best of Maryland award by Preservation Maryland on May 16, 2019 for the Gaithersburg Campus Master Plan.  The citation stated that the "master plan...embodies smart growth in all areas: converting lawn to meadow and reforesting peripheral areas, improving water and energy efficiency, improving bike and pedestrian access to the campus, and rehabilitating historic structures."


Master Plan Illustrative Plan
NIST Gaithersburg Campus Master Plan - Illustrative Plan (Credit: Metropolitan Architects & Planners, Inc.)

NIST Gaithersburg Campus Master Plan and Environmental Assessment, May 2018 

The final Master Plan and EA documents can be downloaded here:

NIST Gaithersburg Campus Master Plan, May 2018

NIST Gaithersburg Campus Master Plan Environmental Assessment, May 2018

Finding of No Significant Impact, signed June 2018

The final Master Plan was approved by NCPC on July 12, 2018.

Commission Action

NCPC Staff Report


Gaithersburg Master Plan - Existing Aerial View
NIST Gaithersburg Campus, Existing - Aerial View (Credit: Metropolitan Architects & Planners, Inc.)
Gaithersburg Master Plan - Proposed Aerial View
NIST Gaithersburg Campus Master Plan - Proposed Aerial View (Credit: Metropolitan Architects & Planners, Inc.)

Draft Master Plan, December 2017 and Draft Environmental Assessment, January 2018

The draft master plan and associated draft environmental assessment (EA) were made available to Federal, State and local agencies, the general public and NIST staff for review and comment.  Comments were accepted from January 3 through March 31, 2018, and all comments were considered in preparation of the final master plan and final EA. 

National Capital Planning Commission

The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) is the federal government’s central planning agency for the National Capital Region.  NCPC provides overall planning guidance for federal land and buildings in the region by reviewing the design of federal and certain local projects, overseeing long-range planning for future development, and monitoring capital investment by federal agencies.  The Commission has advisory authority and provides recommendations to Federal agencies that are located within the National Capital Region but outside of a defined central area within the District of Columbia.

Two presentations were provided to NCPC in support of NIST's submission of the Draft Master Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment to the Commission.

Background Presentation - February 1, 2018

An informational briefing acquainted the Commission with the history and mission of NIST and its headquarters campus in Gaithersburg, MD.

NIST Campus Master Plan Background - NCPC Briefing

Draft Master Plan Presentation – April 5, 2018

NCPC staff provided a presentation of NIST’s draft Master Plan to the Commission, accompanied by a Staff Report with recommendations.  The Commission approved the staff recommendations with no amendments.

NCPC Staff Presentation 4-5-2018

NCPC Staff Report

Commission Action

City of Gaithersburg Draft Master Plan Presentation

A presentation was provided to the Gaithersburg, MD City Council on February 5, 2018.  

Gaithersburg City Council Briefing 2-5-2018

Public Meeting, May 2017

A public informational meeting was held on May 11th, 2017, at the NIST Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, located at 9700 Great Seneca Highway, Rockville, MD.

The purpose of the meeting was to notify the public that NIST is preparing an environmental assessment (EA) for the NIST Gaithersburg campus master plan in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347), and to provide an opportunity for the public to learn about the scope of the plan, to ask questions, and provide comments.  Written comments were accepted through June 15, 2017.

The presentation and handout from the meeting are available here:

NIST Gaithersburg Master Plan Public Presentation 5-11-17

NIST Gaithersburg Master Plan Handout 5-11-17


Created May 3, 2017, Updated July 31, 2020