Architectural plans for a building combining Tilden Middle School and Rock Terrace School show a multi-part structure with shared recreation and learning spaces.
“We want to make this building one building, but we also want each school to have its own identity,” architect Paul Falkenbury told members of the Montgomery County school board this week.
The initial plans show Tilden Middle occupying a three-story space, while Rock Terrace would claim another portion of the roughly 235,000-square-foot building in Rockville. The middle school would be arranged around a central courtyard to provide natural lighting, and the building would allow for a future 12-classroom addition.
Tilden Middle and Rock Terrace would have separate entrances, different window designs and distinctive exterior masonry to set them apart from one another, Falkenbury said.
The building’s two sides would connect through a shared space that would include gym space and special and alternative education areas.
Plan for new Tilden Middle School and Rock Terrace School. Credit: Samaha Associates.
The board of education gave unanimous approval to the early designs for the project at 6300 Tilden Lane.
Rock Terrace Principal Kathy Lertora said the preliminary plans line up with her school’s mission, to serve students who have a range of cognitive disabilities. Plans for a greenhouse, culinary arts space and woodworking area would support Rock Terrace’s programs, Lertora said.
Tilden Middle Principal Irina LaGrange acknowledged that the project has seen some pushback but said the designs incorporate input from the community.
“We’re confident as we continue to work through the process, feasible solutions will continue to be explored to design an amazing school for staff, students and the communities that represent both of our schools,” said LaGrange, whose school of about 900 students is now based at 11211 Old Georgetown Road in Rockville.
The school board’s 2015 decision to collocate Tilden Middle and Rock Terrace drew opposition from residents in the surrounding Luxmanor neighborhood, who claimed the proposal would create too much traffic. Some parents were also uncomfortable dividing a building between middle schoolers and Rock Terrace’s roughly 90 students, who range in age from 11 to 21.
However, MCPS staff said the buildings will run independently and both schools will benefit from the shared spaces.
The new building will replace the holding school that currently exists on the property, and MCPS officials are shooting to complete the project by August 2020.
Proposed entrance designs for Tilden Middle School and Rock Terrace School. Credit: Samaha Associates.