The Waunakee Board of Education has chosen an architectural firm for next year’s referendum. If passed, Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA) will design the village’s new middle school.
The school board’s vice president, Dave Boetcher, said the decision was carefully thought out.
“The facility committee was given the ability to interview architectural services for the upcoming potential referendum,” Boetcher said. “So we interviewed the same four that were invited to the last referendum interview – three of which showed up.”
EUA presented its proposal for architectural services to the school board’s facility-committee Aug. 26, along with two other firms competing for the contract.
Each proposed a pre-referendum fee between $12,000 and $40,000. Other fees were comparable.
Boetcher, the chair of the facility committee, said seeing that fees were similar between all the companies, the cost of retaining an architectural firm was not the deciding factor.
“Their percentages were a hair different,” Boetcher said. “But once you started looking at their remodel cost versus their building cost, they really started to close down again – get closer on financial numbers. We were basically looking at $125,000 difference from the top to bottom.”
Familiarity proved to be the difference maker. The district worked with the firm to build the Waunakee Intermediate School in 2014.
“I’s a good reason to have EUA,” Boetcher said. “They’re totally familiar with our maintenance setup. They handled the last one, and we want those buildings to look pretty much the same.”
Superintendent Randy Guttenberg said energy efficiency played into the choice, as well.
“We had a discussion about energy-efficient designs,” Guttenberg said, “and some of the things that they’ve improved upon even since we built the intermediate school. And then we discussed the importance of the team members at the table, as far as who we work with.”
Guttenberg said he was comfortable with EUA, and the recommendation to retain them.
Board member Mike Brandt said the other architectural firms that were interviewed simply failed to make the type of impression Eppstein Uhen Architects did.
“There wasn’t anything compelling enough to overcome those advantages that we already have with EUA,” Brandt said. “They were all great, as far as I was concerned. But (EUA) has advantages that the others just can’t match.”
The firm has proposed a kick-off meeting to establish expectations, as well as communication methods. There, regular meeting dates would be scheduled with school officials. A date for the meeting has yet to be announced.
The school board is planning for a November 2020 referendum. The price-tag could be between $100 million and $120 million, according to Boetcher, but the final costs have not yet been determined.