The Wgema [wguh-mah] (chief) Campus which was formerly home to Concordia College is continuing to strategically redevelop to improve the neighborhood. The Tthigwe [jee-gweh] (thunderbird) gymnasium building, originally built in 1930, began its historic renovation in June 2022, nearly 12 years after the first redevelopment phase of the campus.
The Forest County Potawatomi (FCP) acquired the campus and established a trust in 1986, three years after Concordia College relocated. Woodlands East, the on-campus independent charter school, and the Milwaukee Bucks are among organizations that used the gym for team practices and other physical activity. The north section of the building, built in 1955, originally housed a pool but was eventually filled in to fulfill storage and event space needs.
Exterior restoration work includes tuckpointing alongside the east, south, and west facades of the building as well as selective demolition and abatement. The team is replacing old windows and installing new, historically matching windows. The north façade will be reconstructed and include an entrance vestibule. The pool house will be razed, and the building’s concrete will be crushed and recycled as infill. The project also includes new landscaping along with installation of new stormwater utilities, an extension of the parking lot, lighting, and permeable pavers.
Interior work includes upgrades to all mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems along with installation of a new fire protection and alarm system. Additionally, new lighting will be installed throughout the building along with new interior finishes and all existing bathrooms will be upgraded to meet ADA compliance requirements. In the gymnasium, the floors will be sanded and refinished and receive new striping along with installation of new basketball hoops. The bleachers themselves are in good condition but will receive cosmetic upgrades.
As with any historic renovation, it’s difficult to know what to expect in the existing building. This project is no exception, and the team will work through the conditions of the MEP systems as the project progresses. The team is also working with the National Parks Service to ensure proper historic renovation procedures and standards are followed. Meanwhile, the construction team navigates the complexities of working in an active campus and coordinating multiple contractors . Working together, the team created a site logistics plan to account for personnel safety, material procurement and heavy machinery operation.
We are proud to take an active role in this historic redevelopment within the Wgema campus. We would like to recognize the hard work and dedication of our project team including Alex Siehoff, Project Manager, Jordan Guth, Project Engineer, and Connor Wierschem, Assistant Superintendent. We would like to thank FCP and Potawatomi Business Development Corporation for selecting Greenfire as their construction manager and Quorum Architects as the project architect.