How Can Reviving a Former Community Center Help the People Living Around It?

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Bowie Racetrack c. 1961

My project is focused on changing the Bowie Race Track in order to allow regular people to use it to both learn about the history of the racetrack, and relax in a nice outdoor area. The Bowie Racetrack stopped being used for horse racing back in the 80’s and stopped being used as a practice track in 2015. Since then it has fallen into disuse, and has been sold to the city of Bowie, Bowie State University, and a few other groups. The Racetrack has had a large effect on Bowie over the years, and because of this I want to construct a mid-sized visitor center which can truly memorialize the effect of this place.


Bowie Racetrack was opened October 14, 1914, and was one of three new horse racing tracks constructed in a four year period, with a track being constructed in Laurel in 1911, and another in Havre De Grace in 1912. Near the Racetrack was a railroad station, which allowed people from across the eastern seaboard to come and see the races. Through the years it became one of the most important racetracks in the US, once bringing in over 300,000 people. However, its popularity declined in the 70’s, when four jockeys were convicted of trying to fix a race. Along with the many fires that occurred, and the increase of tracks that held winter races, the track was barely holding on, until in 1985 it closed for live racing. The grandstands were demolished in 2004, and in 2015 the training center was closed, ending Bowie’s horse racing days once and for all. In order to commemorate the legacy of this place, I designed a visitor center which would allow for people to come and learn about the history of this place, as well as enjoy the area and relax.

Additional Information

The racetrack takes up quite a large area, but also consists of many other pieces, including the stables on the other side of racetrack road, as well as a large parking area and the old stands. The racetrack itself is about one mile long if you go all the way around the oval shaped track but is about 2,250 ft across, however for this project I will be focusing on the green section in the eastmost edge of the racetrack. The racetrack itself is blocked off from the road by a fence going all the way along the roadside, as well as a fence on the interior, separating the dirt track from the grassy area. There are three areas that connect to the racetrack itself, you can access it by going across the bridge from the stable area, through the security entrance down the road, or through Saddlebrook East Community Park. The track itself is comprised of a dirt track around a large open grass area, that has a lot of room to add stuff into.

Case Studies

All of these buildings had a role in my design. I specifically chose these out as they were all on the site of a piece of history, with the House of Grain commemorating agriculture in Denmark, the Fort McHenry visitor center at the site of the failed invasion of Baltimore and bombardment of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, Monmouth Battlefield visitor center at the site of the Battle of Monmouth, which occurred in the American Revolutionary War, and Qiseshan Quarry Garden visitor center, which is at the site of an old Chinese quarry.

Initial Design Drawings

Bubble Diagram
Site Plan
Floor Plan Drawing

Site Plan

Floor Plan


Although it was not added to my Sketchup building, my building design includes solar panels on the roof, allowing for the building to generate solar energy. This is also why the roof slants, as slanting in that direction maximizes sunlight received. The maintenance room, in the top left of the floor plan, is where the batteries would be stored.

Feedback Questions

  1. Is history something that you are specifically interested in?
  2. If you visited would you prefer to see the outdoor or indoor area?
  3. Do you feel that my project could have addressed another topic that I didn’t mention?

Sources Used:

Bowie Race Track Site | Bowie, MD – Official Website

Ghosts of racetracks past: Bowie and its breed * The Racing Biz

Gallery of Qiseshan Quarry Garden Visitor Centre / United Units Architects – 26

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine Visitor and Education Center / GWWO Architects | ArchDaily

Gallery of Monmouth Battlefield State Park Visitor Center / ikon.5 architects – 16

Gallery of House of Grain / Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter – 15



  1. I really like the idea of this design because it would revive the area and bring a new building as a community center for them to enjoy in bowie. I really like the way you did your drawings and sketches because of how precise they were and how comprehensive they were for people who might not have understood the idea right away. great job.

  2. Hey! I love your projects focus on history and informing others about the racetracks use. There are so many benefits to you space, particularly in your outdoor space. I would love to hear if you have considered how your history center could repurpose of the space or cause people to be more interested in using it for its original purpose.

  3. Hi Ethan. I really like your idea for revitalizing the area through the visitor center. I was particularly interested in your case studies, for they seem to have greatly influenced your final design (especially with the roof design). To answer your second question, I would prefer to see the outdoor area.

  4. Loved how you used this to bring back something from the past!! So impressed!!

  5. Hey Ethan, I really like how your project turned out! I love how you decided to commemorate something rather than create something new entirely.

  6. Hi Ethan! I enjoyed reading your project and your idea of revitalizing an area that is no longer used in your community. Your SketchUp designs are detailed and intricate. I especially liked your case studies and reading the process of your project. In addition, I think your use of solar energy is a great way in which to create a sustainable structure in the community. Overall, great job!

  7. Hey Ethan, I think its a great idea that you’re trying to memorialize the history of the racetrack through your project. I like the way you placed your 3d sketch onto google maps to give a great idea of what it would look like if it were constructed. What would you think if the racetrack came back into use again, would that be better or worse for the community of Bowie?

  8. Hey Ethan! Your final design looks great and you chose great colors all-around. I really like your site plan and the background behind it, and how you were able to transform it. Great job!

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