Reviving Crumbling Schools: Baltimore Students Join The Planning Phase

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Now that Baltimore City has secured more than a billion dollars to revive its crumbling schools, a building boom is about to begin.

Mike Schuh reports before the architects get started, they’re asking the students for help.

The years 1910, 1923 and 1971 are when Pimlico elementary and middle schools were built or expanded. Time has not been kind to the buildings.

Now, planning for a new or rebuilt Pimlico is among the first of 137 city schools to be re-created.

At the beginning of the process is the wisdom of sixth, seventh and eighth-graders.

“What we’re doing right now is affecting the school,” said Markus Richards, eighth-grader.

“We’re not really asking them to do our jobs for us as much as have them help us open our minds and open their minds to what the layout of the school could possibly be. Asking for such help has paid off on previous projects,” said Peter Winebrenner, Hord Coplan Macht Architecture.

“So they’re able to come up with ideas that typically aren’t built verbatim, but help influence us and actually push closer to a great idea than we may have gotten to on our own,” he said.

And for the kids, they’re surprised that solving such practical problems mirrors their classroom work.

“This is just like common core,” Richards said.

These buildings may be torn down and replaced by new ones, or they may be remodeled. At first glance, Winebrenner feels the oldest should be saved, the newest removed by bulldozer.

“Addition through subtraction we like to call it,” Winebrenner said.

As much as the designers take from these middle schoolers, they also give back.

“I want to be an architect,” Richards said.

From these early stages of planning to the point where children are actually coming to a new or renovated school, it should be about four years.

This study to determine if that school should be renovated or replaced will be completed by December.

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