New grade school's color scheme draws comment Most praise Fountain Green decor

August 29, 1993|By Adriane B. Miller | Adriane B. Miller,Contributing Writer

The newly built Fountain Green Elementary School in Harford will open to students tomorrow, but not without debate over the nontraditional color scheme used in the building.

The window frames are teal, the cabinets are periwinkle blue. Chairs are grape, building supports are fire-alarm red. Outer walls are tiled in terra cotta, while the accent tiles are purple and black. And the grout in which the tiles are set is mustard yellow.

The interior walls, of course, are white. After all, this is an educational institution.

At Fountain Green, on Route 543 east of Bel Air, standard color schemes are as scarce as a kid with a math book in summer.

Joseph Licata, supervisor of public school construction for the county, said last week that the department's choice of colors has provoked plenty of discussion. Not all of it's polite.

"People in general either love it or hate it," Mr. Licata said. "Many people have said they weren't really excited about it at first, but the colors really grow on you. We have them no where else in the county."

"Ugly" is how Earl Brooks described the new school. Mr. Brooks and his wife, Linda, live several blocks east of the school in the Greenridge development.

"When I first saw the colors I thought, 'Uh oh, I hope that's the undercoat,' " Ms. Brooks said. "I guess if it makes the kids happy, that's what counts."

Maurie Zielinski, a resident on Mauser Drive in Greenridge II, has a commanding view of Fountain Green School from her back yard. She thinks the school colors are bizarre.

"If they're going to spend millions on the school, I guess they want it to stand out," she said.

"I mean it's modern, it's tech, it catches your attention. But I don't know why they did those colors. Purple? I probably would have gone with green."

Robin Macomber on nearby Winslow Drive isn't thrilled with the choice of colors either. She said she thinks the designers should have gone with a more traditional school color, like red.

PD Even Fountain Green School Principal Marlin C. Dellinger said he

wasn't convinced at first the colors made sense.

"I guess my first reaction was that it doesn't seem to match," Mr. Dellinger said. "I thought the green was a primer color and they'd be covering it over in a traditional color.

"Now that I've been in the building since May, I really like it. You can see how the architect has tied things together inside. It's nice and bright and it is quite different from other Harford County schools."

"Definitely different" is how Jean Robinson describes the building. She, too, has a direct view of the school from her home on Mauser Drive.

"I went to Catholic schools. This is much different," Ms. Robinson observed. "But I like it. It's better than boring. I think it will put the children in the right frame of mind."

Rose Tolson, another Winslow Drive resident, said she thinks the colors are appropriate.

"They don't bother me. It's a school for the '90s," she said.

Scott Reilly, who also lives in Greenridge adjacent to Fountain Green School, said he might not decorate his living room in purple, teal, red and black. But he thinks the colors work in an elementary school setting.

"I see cars and boats that color now. Why not a school?" he said.

Mr. Reilly's neighbor, Marnee Manzari, said she was shocked when she saw the hues for the first time.

"It looked like a bathroom to me," Ms. Manzari said. "But I think they grow on you. And they match our water tower," an enormous aqua-blue emergency supply tower that hovers just east of the school.

Mr. Licata said the school, which came after the tower, was not designed to complement the tower, although he admits that it does.

Fountain Green Elementary was designed by Probst-Mason, a Baltimore architectural firm that has designed several other Maryland schools. Mr. Licata said the design team came up with several schematic designs and color selections and left the decision to county construction officials.

"We were trying to pick colors that are less institutional looking and more exciting and inviting," he said. "These colors, what I call 'new age' colors, are new, at least for Harford County schools."

The purple-red-teal-blue colors won out over other schemes, including a standard red-blue-yellow combination and a mix of soft pastels.

The unusual color scheme has deflected attention from the unfinished landscaping and playgrounds at the school.

Sandra Long, who supervises physical education facilities for Harford's public schools, said she hopes the county provides money to buy equipment for Fountain Green by the end of the school year, but nothing has yet been decided.

"It all hinges upon money," she said.

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