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Wauwatosa School Board approves first phase of design for new Lincoln and Underwood Schools



The Wauwatosa School Board unanimously approved the Schematic Design - or first phase of design - for the new Lincoln and Underwood Elementary Schools during its meeting on Monday, February 11.


The Board’s vote on the drawings follows three months of planning and significant community input including three neighborhood meetings at each of the two schools, staff feedback, and input from parents, community members, neighbors, and staff via an online Thoughtexchange regarding the exterior aesthetics of each building.


“It has been remarkable how much the feedback has influenced our designs. The designs have evolved because of the feedback and the designs are better because of it,” said Nick Kent, lead project architect with Plunkett Raysich Architects, during his presentation to the Board.


Schematic Design is just the first step of three phases of design. It defines the general direction of design or the big picture; the number of rooms, the general organization of rooms, and the exterior aesthetic.


“What it is not is a complete set of construction drawings. Those will continue to develop,” Kent told the Board. “What we are showing you tonight will be tweaked and modified as we go through engineering and down to our construction documents.”


Lincoln front of building


At Lincoln Elementary, the bones of the original 1919 building will remain and be completely renovated. The other two additions will be demolished and rebuilt.  Based on community feedback, the gym area of the building will remain on the south side of the property, allowing architects to keep a lower profile, single story classroom wing facing the residential homes on Warren Avenue.


Lincoln Site Plan


The exterior plans include space for an outdoor classroom, more outdoor green space for students, and an entry that creates space for parents and families to congregate and build community. Additionally, the design relocates the main entrance to a central part of the building facing Underwood Avenue and includes a drop-off lane along the front side of the building, moving traffic off the road to improve flow and increase safety.  Each of the features was among the top feedback gathered from the community, parents, and staff.


At Underwood Elementary, the entire existing building will be replaced with new construction, as was communicated prior to the referendum. The new building will be built further back on the site in order to maintain the existing building while the new school is constructed.

underwood front entrance


Underwood’s site will feature increased parking in front of the building with a U-shaped drop-off lane to bring traffic off of Potter Road and improve traffic flow and safety. Based on community feedback, the exterior features more modern design elements with a focus on incorporating natural-looking materials.


underwood site plan  


Both buildings will be fully ADA accessible and will include improved security features to provide controlled visitor access within the building, which does not currently exist.



Moving forward, the project team will further develop systems within the buildings and turn their attention to the interiors in the second phase of design, Design Development.


“We’ll be looking at what goes into the rooms, placement of windows, doors, writeable surfaces, etc.,” Kent told the Board.


In April, pre-demolition work will begin at Lincoln Elementary School. Classrooms will be temporarily relocated to the 1919 portion of the building for the remainder of the school year, with groundbreaking expected to occur in early June.


A competitive bidding process of subcontractors will occur in April and May. An informational meeting was held in January for local subcontractors interested in learning about the process.


At Underwood, groundbreaking is expected in June also.


Meanwhile, in March, the District and PRA will begin the community engagement process for the schematic design of the new McKinley and Wilson/WSTEM schools to be built, though construction for those schools will not begin until the summer of 2020.


Stay up-to-date on referendum projects at


View Underwood site and floor plans presented to the Board here


View Lincoln site and floor plans presented to the Board here.


Watch the presentation to the school board here. (beginning at 41:38)