This Saturday Howard County will dedicate a new $6.725 million county office building on Governor's Hill, a mile northwest of the courthouse in Ellicott City. The new facility replaces a conglomerate of offices near the courthouse which served the county until it out-grew its not so distant rural past.
The dedication ceremonies will feature local politicians, high school hands and choruses and a reception catered by a local French restaurant.
Governor's Hill, so called because the four county buildings located there have all been named for Howard County residents who served as governors of Maryland, also includes the county police headquarters, a second office building and a connecting health wing.
All have been built in the last 11 years, a response to the increasing demand for local services in a county where the population has grown from 61,000 to 116,000 in the last seven years. Much of that growth has come with Columbia, the "new town" that opened in Howard County 10 years ago and now has about 45,000 residents. A population of 100,000 from Columbia is projected for the early 1990s.
Named for George Howard, who was Maryland's 22nd governor and served from 1831 to 1833, the new office building's facade combines red brick, dark-tinted glass and stone landscaping walls. Stepped-back office lofts give the building a pyramid effect.
The entire building has been designed to accommodate handicapped employees and visitors. There are reserved parking spaces near the entrance, ramped curbs, lower drinking fountains, wide toilets stalls and even a podium in the County Council hearing room which could easily be reached by a handicapped council member.
The opening of the new building will mean, in addition to more space of county workers, a certain amount of grandeur for the county council. The council will move from cramped quarters in the basement of the aging courthouse to a suite of offices complete with a 400-seat octagonal amphitheater for its own hearing room.
The press will also be provided with new facilities. The council hearing room has an adjoining, fully equipped press room where reporters may work while keeping an eye on activities through a glass partition.In addition, one of the building's two large conference rooms - each seating up to 100 persons - has been equipped with lights designed to accommodate television cameras.
Work space throughout the building is flexible, with offices separated by movable panels which can be changed to satisfy varying needs.
Completion of the George Howard building has triggered a general reshuffling among county agencies that will be moving from the "old" county office building on Governors' Hill to the new one and from previous offices in Ellicott City and Columbia to Governor's Hill. County spokesman estimate the entire spate of moves will not be completed until early spring.