When students returned to classes at the St. John–St. James Evangelical Lutheran School in Reedsville, Wisconsin in January 2018, excitement was in the air. Students, staff and parents lauded the new facilities, made possible by the demolition of an outdated building originally constructed in 1903 and the construction of a 16,500-square-foot addition to the church. The project was funded by a $2 million commitment from the church community that owns and operates the school. St. John–St. James provides quality education to students in kindergarten through 8th grade. Now students can enjoy the new amenities, including a new gymnasium with main and practice courts for basketball and volleyball, a commons area, a kitchen, private offices, locker rooms, and renovated bathroom facilities. The addition also created something the church school community had long wanted: a physical link between the church and school that eliminates the need to exit a building to move between either space. The expansion also creates the necessary space to expand its early childhood program. The school, located at 223 Manitowoc Street in Reedsville, drew a lot of attention in this small, tight-knit community. There was an audience for the demolition work that removed the original structure, making room for new construction. The school's prominence in the community meant that construction also garnered much attention.
Our recent work for the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc (UW-M) was both exhilarating and challenging. Not unlike, we imagine, the work that students perform there every semester in the laboratories, classrooms, and libraries at Founders Hall. While we weren’t racing cars, it did seem like the construction version of “The Fast and the Furious.” Getting to the finish line in the transformation of Founders Hall was important and required rigorous attention to scheduling, materials delivery — and successful navigation of several challenges. The First Renovations in Half a Century The two-story UW-M Founders Hall, located at 705 Viebahn Street in Manitowoc, had not been significantly updated since its construction in 1962. While the scope of work required $4.4 million in general contracting services, the entire project encompassed $7 million in renovations, materials, and fixtures. The project included major work: moving the library to the first floor of Founders Hall, replacing windows that were long since boarded up, and updating facilities from the art studios to the science labs. Manitowoc County contributed $5 million to the project, the State of Wisconsin contributed $1.5 million, and private donations picked up the rest of the tab.