New Dundalk High-Sollers Point Tech ready for debut
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 12:30

Terry Squyres, center, an architect with GWWO. Inc./Architects, the firm that designed the new Dundalk High-Sollers Point Techical schools, describes the process while (from left) Pardeep Dixit, Ed Parker, Dundalk High principal Tom Shouldice and Sollers Point principal Mike Weglein listen. photos by Bill Gates

Design stresses community of two schools 

by Bill Gates

    When the new Dundalk High-Sollers Point Technical schools formally make their debut on Monday for the first official day of classes, students will not just be entering a state-of-the-art facility.
    They will also be engaging in a new experience. Two high schools, sharing a building designed specifically to foster that aspect.
    Not to mention, also designed to tie in with the neighboring CCBC Dundalk.
    “We wanted to foster a sense of community between the two [schools],” said Terry Squyres, an architect with GWWO. Inc./Architects, during a media tour on Aug. 14.
    There are several “shared spaces” in the building: the media center, cafeteria and auditorium being the prime areas.
    The two schools are divided by a large, airy, sunlit central courtyard which contains the media center.
    Adminstrative offices for both schools face each other across the main lobby.
    The Dundalk High side, facing Delvale Avenue, uses red brick; the Sollers Point Technical side, facing CCBC Dundalk and with access via Sollers Point Road, uses translucent fiberglass sandwich panels.
    To think, at the start of the design process for the new Dundalk High and Sollers Point Technical, the intent was to build two separate school buildings, side-by-side.
    “It’s exciting to have Dundalk, Sollers Point and CCBC Dundalk basically on the same campus,” Dundalk High principal Tom Shouldice said. “This gives the students in our community an opportunity to access the programs at each school.”
    Sollers Point Technical has an impressive number of classrooms featuring the most up-to-date equipment.
    The salon and spa is designed after About Faces in Timonium.
    The culinary department is the largest in the state and will cater events. Each student will have his or her own station, and all of the equipment is made of stainless steel.
    The conference room adjacent to the culinary program can serve 125 guests at one time, and developing a full-service bakery is a long-term project for the school.
    “There’s nothing like this in the county,” Sollers Point principal Mike Weglein said. “Students will want to eat here instead of in the cafeteria.”
    Student nurses in the Health program will intern at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, while the Maritime Studies program is partnered with the Port of Baltimore.
    “This is everything I could dream of as a new principal,” said Weglein, who will be in his first year at Sollers Point.
    “Who wouldn’t want a space like this? The students should be very proud,” he said.
    Dundalk High includes special education classrooms, science laboratories for earth and space sciences, biology, chemistry and physics, art studios, a darkroom, a graphic communications instruction suite, music instructional and practice spaces, computer labs, JROTC facilities, and specialized spaces for the school’s criminal justice and Homeland Security/Air Traffic Control programs.
    “The learning spaces are designed around the needs of the programs,” Squyres said. “There is flexibility for the future; education changes, and we wanted the building to adjust to that.”
    The building features many small details that help people find their way around: dark tiles on the floor signal the presence of a classroom/office door, as do the circular light fixtures on the ceiling.
    All the room numbers and names are also written in braille.
    “We wanted to bring the scale of a very large building down to a human scale,” Squyres said. “People can also re-orient themselves to the central core and be able to find their way back to the lobby.”
    And, it should be noted, the facility was completed on schedule and came in under cost.
    “That means we have more money to spend,” Shouldice joked.
    There is a one-to-one ratio of computers to students, while desks are designed to have room for both a laptop and writing devices.
    The auditorium — “We call it a theatre,” Shouldice said — seats 500 people and the acoustics are so good that a speaker doesn’t need a microphone to be heard.
    “This is another example of building with the needs of the community in mind, not just the needs of the school,” said Ed Parker, a Dundalk High alumnus, former Sollers Point principal and current member of the Baltimore County School Board. “The community will be able to use this [auditorium].”
    While the schools open for students on Monday, the official ribbon-cutting is not until Oct. 1.
    A community open house will also be offered on that day.
    “These schools will bring the community back into the schoolhouse,” Weglein sasid. “They will revitalize the community and make Dundalk a good place to live and entice people to move here.”

Old Dundalk High faces wrecking ball while finishes touches are applied to new Dundalk/Sollers  

Stuff is coming down, stuff is going up and a new school prepares for its debut. Going clockwise from top left: a view of the soon-to-be demolished old Seagrams plant from the roof of the new Dundalk High/Sollers Point Technical; one of two surviving 1938-era Murdoch water fountains from the old Sollers Point High school now sitting in the new school’s lobby; a construction vehicle menaces the trees that stood in the formerly-enclosed interior courtyard of the old Dundalk High; a layer of stones designed to keep sound from escaping outlines the roof of the new school’s auditorium/theatre; meanwhile, at Patapsco, the school’s new concession stand can be seen taking shape to the far right behind the new backstop being built for the baseball field — replacing the 50-year-old backstop; also at Patapsco, a new backstop and dugouts are being built next to the new location for the softball field that was displaced by the construction of the school’s new stadium; the clerestories on the roof of Dundalk High/Sollers Point Tech that bring sunlight to the cafeteria and the facilities’ central courtyard; the old Dundalk High, its auditorium completely demolished, waits its turn for the wrecking ball.  Construction vehicles work on the driveway that will connect the Dundalk High/Sollers Point Technical parking lots to Delvale Avenue; the old Dundalk High’s breezeway hangs out in space, soon to be just a memory; it’s hard to tell at first glance, but the old Dundalk High’s gymnasium is gone, sheered off but leaving the portion with the locker rooms and activity rooms still standing. That part has since also been reduced to rubble; while this may look like the main entrance to Dundalk High/Sollers Point Technical, it’s considered the secondary entrance; all that debris stacked on the roof of the old Dundalk High breezeway is lockers, chairs, desks and whatever other loose objects were cleared out of the old building prior to the start of demolition; front-end loaders doing what many a wayward student has imagined over the years: destroying the principal’s (as well as every every other administrator’s) office; this is the main entrance area for the two new schools. Note the absence of the fence once separating the area from CCBC Dundalk; the new facility is air-conditioned! This unit pumps 20,000 gallons of water a minute to cool the building.
 photos by Bill Gates