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Construction begins on Mikulski site

Construction of an environmentally friendly building honoring U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski ceremonially began yesterday in Fells Point, once the home base of the former community activist.

The Mikulski Workforce Development Center will provide 3,000 square feet of additional space for the Living Classrooms Foundation's programs, and for pupils at the new Crossroads Middle School next door.

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Mikulski helped to secure $300,000 in federal funds, and the city chipped in $75,000.

"We knew that they were struggling for funds, and we knew that they had a dream," she said. "They had a social architecture that could really build lives, and what they needed was some modest help to pay for the physical architecture."

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Designed by Alexander Design Studio/McLain Associates, the structure will be shaped in part like a ship to evoke the area's boat-building tradition. Small plants will cover the roof to reduce runoff to the harbor.

At the South Caroline Street campus, Mayor Martin O'Malley and City Council President Sheila Dixon praised the foundation, led by President and Chief Executive Officer James Piper Bond. Its programs provide hands-on training to prepare youths and young adults for the working world. Staff members and students are helping with construction.

"We're going to be ... using it as another part of what Living Classrooms is all about, which is learning by doing," said Joshua Brown, an instructor with Project SERVE, a joint program of the foundation and AmeriCorps that teaches carpentry and construction skills in addition to skills such as professionalism.

The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall.


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