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New Elkridge Middle School Diverges from Traditional Design

The developer of Oxford Square worked with planners to blend community and school.

The design for a new middle school in Hanover has “dramatically changed,” said Bruce Gist, director of school construction for the Howard County Public School System.

"The exterior presentation has dramatically changed compared to...current middle schools," said Gist at the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, where he presented the new design plans for the school, scheduled to open in fall 2014.

Some of the changes were influenced by the developer of Oxford Square, said Gist.

"We have a partner in this development," said Gist.

David Scheffenacker, the developer of Oxford Square, donated the school site to the Howard County Public School System in 2010, along with $4 million toward construction if it is built by 2014.

"We worked extensively with them because they were so cooperative and generous and gracious in working this land transaction with us," said Gist. "We felt obligated to accommodate the architectural aesthetics of the neighborhood as they requested, to a degree."

Scheffenacker is planning a community called Oxford Square that will include residential and office buildings, as well as the school. The Oxford Square community will have a "traditional aesthetic," according to plans submitted to the school board.

The middle school in Oxford Square will have exterior features that Robyn Toth, an architect working on the project, called "more traditional" and "residential," in an effort to "answer to the development nearby."

Toth outlined these deviations from Howard County's prototypical middle school design:

  • Smaller bricks and "more detailing"
  • Smaller windows. "The classroom windows are smaller, more residential looking and they have arched windows on top," said Toth.
  • Sloped roof with recast metal. "The developer was very interested in what their residents were going to be able to see from their buildings," said Toth.

Residential development will commence at the Oxford Square community in late 2012, according to plans submitted to the school board.

Gist said he would submit construction documents for the middle school in November and solicit bids for the project in January 2013 for a fall 2014 opening date.

Leslie Kornreich July 17, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Given its proximity to the RR tracks, it also needs to have better soundproofing, as well as outdoor protections against derailments (which have already happened at this site). Did HCPSS do any research on how a school so close to the RR tracks should be designed differently?
Robert Judge July 18, 2012 at 12:57 AM
The building should nicely compliment the huge retaining wall and the Verizon.office building.
Frank in Elkridge July 18, 2012 at 02:03 PM
The school is almost 3/4 mile from the rail road tracks. There many schools in Maryland that are within 100 yards of major highways and roads with heavy truck traffic. Are any of those schools designed differently because of being "next" to the I-95 or Route 1?
Lori W July 18, 2012 at 02:39 PM
For the past 20 years, I have lived within 100 yards of the rail road tracks near the area of the school site, and I have not yet experienced a derailment there. When did this happen? Approximately how far from the tracks did the train stray? I have a vested interest in the answer. I admit that the trains are somewhat loud at times, too loud to carry a conversation outdoors, they are nothing in comparison to the airplanes that fly overhead.
JT July 18, 2012 at 09:51 PM
This is how rumours start. The school site is not next to the tracks. It's closer to Coca-Cola Drive. Therefore, I am concerned about the influence of the name Coca-Cola Drive will have over the kids. They'll all be drinking sodas for lunch and getting fat. Can we put up a retaining wall so the kids won't see the name of the road? Or perhaps we should simply rename the road to Peanut-and-Gluten-Free Boulevard. ;)
Jack July 19, 2012 at 05:51 AM
What if there was a derailment there? Chemical tankers? If they were my children being sent there I would be damn glad people like Mrs. Kornreich and Mr. Dyer tried to speak up for them befor it happened because everyone else was in it for the money. "David Scheffenacker, the developer of Oxford Square, donated the school site to the Howard County Public School System in 2010, along with $4 million toward construction if it is built by 2014", a swamp next to a train track because the land is near worthless and unless a school is built there will be no building because the BOE failed the people of Elkridge and Route 1 for years and now have no choice but beg for scraps. It is time people see the garbage which runs Howard county for what they are. jack thompson
Lori W July 19, 2012 at 01:46 PM
I agree that the name 'Coca-Cola' should go. It's a constant reminder of our unfulfilled expectations of the company contributing to our local economy. I'd prefer to name it after a nearby stream or favorite politician. How does Courtney Drive sound. ;)
Frank in Elkridge July 19, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Good point. "Coca-Cola Drive" is a name associated with false hopes and unfulfilled promise. It deserves a new name if we are building a new school on it. The naming committee should recommend a new name for both the school and the road.
Annie July 19, 2012 at 02:23 PM
This is getting to me, people talking about building a school. So far we've got: soundproofing (what homes or schools), outdoor protections (what kind for what) change the name of the Road (new signs all around), move the railroad tracks (to where), put up a wall (for what), fill in the swamp (why its been there forever), Committe for naming school and road (another committee?). More money spent and no one has moved a shovel of dirt yet. Who the hell cares your going to get what they give you and that's it.
Annie July 19, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Why not worry about Rt 100 being right next to it. Traffic jams trying to get out at the only interestion. You ever come by there when work lets out??? What a hell of a mess.
Frank in Elkridge July 19, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Just FYI - all new schools have a naming committee. It's standard operating procedure and done by unpaid volunteers. The local community always loves having the opportunity for input. As for sound-proofing, the noise from BWI air-traffic is much greater than noise from RR tracks or Route 100.
Annie July 19, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I went to school right down the road from there when there was an old Dorsey School. Open windows and no air condition. Granted the traffic air and road was not as bad as it is now but then again remember open windows? Stop babying everybody. You think the community really has imput? I think its a joke and it is on us.
Jack July 19, 2012 at 08:14 PM
"Who the hell cares your going to get what they give you and that's it.".... "What a hell of a mess.".... That seems to sum up the way this whole mess unfolded............But, then there were people like Mrs. Kornreich out there and without them you would not even have these scraps, it would have been a lot worse because no one in the hcpss was doing anything about it.
Elle April 08, 2013 at 03:09 PM
So just seeing the words will make them drink soda? lol

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