New School Building Gets Ok

Glass-fronted Humanities Hall To Be In Keeping With Maryvale's Stone Castle

July 23, 2009|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

A private school with a nearly century-old castle at the center of its campus plans to expand in the future while keeping an eye on its past.

Maryvale Preparatory School's humanities building, its latest proposed addition, has won approval from the Baltimore County Planning Board and will now move through the development review process.

Maryvale opened nearly 65 years ago in the castle, a stately stone residence in Brooklandville patterned after a British medieval manor. The home, built in 1916 with 65 rooms and a great hall, is designated and preserved as a Baltimore County landmark.

Today, the castle houses a chapel, library, offices and classrooms for the school. Maryvale has also added buildings, science and computer labs, and a learning center on its 115-acre campus over the past several decades to accommodate its enrollment, now about 400 girls in the sixth grade through high school. But the school has always been mindful of the castle's stature.

The school will grow again with the three-story humanities building that will feature a glass front overlooking the castle. The building will house an auditorium, galleries and about six classrooms.

"It is space we desperately need and we are making sure that the new building conforms with the castle at the center of our campus," said Sister Shawn Marie Maguire, headmistress at Maryvale.

Whenever a project involves a historic structure, new construction cannot create any adverse impact on what is already long-standing on the property, said Pat Keller, county planning director. The county's Landmark Preservation Commission reviewed the plan and found it would have no negative impact on the castle.

"Landmarks quickly embraced this project," said Edward J. Gilliss, chairman of the county Planning Board, which approved the proposal last Thursday.

The humanities building and other proposals in the school master plan, including a future media center, have been designed "in deference to the unique nature of the castle," said Jim Carroll, an architect with Design Collective and a member of the school's board of trustees. "The project embraces the castle from a historical standpoint and keeps the girls in contact with it on a walkable campus."

The planned masonry building's location is both responsive to the castle and respectful of it, he said. While at three stories it will be as tall as the castle, much of the auditorium will be built into a hillside so it will not tower over the adjoining structures.

"This is a development plan that is going through the process," Keller said. "If there are any substantive changes relating to the project or its architecture, it must come back to us."

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