MCPS Scales Back Size of Proposed Middle School
New layout proposals have smaller footprint and preserve more green space on Rock Creek Hills Park.
Samaha Associates, the architecture firm designing the school, unveiled three new proposed layouts at a meeting in Bethesda on Wednesday, and each is designed to house 836 students, compared to the 944 accommodated by past mockups.
All of the designs leave space for expanding to serve 1,200 students, a number that has remained unchanged since the start of the process.
"The idea is to reduce the footprint of the school so that we have a better opportunity to preserve green space at the site," architect Paul Falkenbury said.
In past meetings, neighbors were concerned the school would be an eyesore in residential Rock Creek Hills, and, in response, the three layouts discussed Wednesday allow for a 30-foot buffer zone of trees on all sides of the property.
The layouts vary from three to four stories, and each separates sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade classes by floor. Two allow for a courtyard in the middle of the school building, but with that comes a larger footprint for the school.
The feasibility-study process has been contentious since MCPS chose the Rock Creek Hills site, and neighbors have complained that the school district has been less than transparent in its dealings ever since.
Neighbors are also still concerned with the proposed school's effect on traffic—buses and parents would use Saul Road and Haverhill Drive to get kids to and from the site, and those are residential streets.
Cross said both streets are wide enough to accommodate school use, and Falkenbury said recent designs mitigate the effects of traffic on the neighborhood by leaving space for up to 43 cars to queue in the drop-off area.
The next and final public-input session on the school is Aug. 17. After that, MCPS and Samaha will present a recommended layout to the community on Sept. 7 and then send the results of the feasibility study to the superintendent in October.