Lick-Wilmerding High School Refreshed with $46 Million Makeover

Lick-Wilmerding High School students exit the renovated front entrance on a rainy afternoon at the end of the school day. CLIFF FERNANDES/INGLESIDE-EXCELSIOR LIGHT

The remodeling and rebuilding of Lick-Wilmerding High School nears completion following the replacement of its two-story classroom and administrative wing on Ocean Avenue in Ingleside.

Students on Oct. 7 moved into the new three-story building, which brings the entrance of the prestigious private high school onto Ocean Avenue and Howth Street, and makes it more accessible for people with disabilities. With a facade along Ocean Avenue that features large windowpanes, the new building holds 19 classrooms, a new science lab, a spacious dance studio, admissions, faculty offices and more.

The campus plan recommended the makeover after finding that the school faced seismic challenges. Moreover, the previous building, constructed in 1956, was made for 250 students; its capacity of 490 students had already been met. The expansion increased LWHS’s capacity to 550 students.

Director of Communications Eleanor Sananman said that by providing more inclusivity than before, the makeover aligns with the school’s mission statement, which defines LWHS as “a private school with a public purpose.”

LWHS, one of the Bay Area’s most selective schools, with a tuition of roughly $47,000 a year, paid $46 million for the project.

“We’ve learned that the current building doesn’t really suit our needs anymore,” architecture teacher Goranka Poljak-Hoy said last year in an LWHS video. “Space became an issue, but also the school has been growing and could grow more because every year we reject so many wonderful students.”

The project includes streetscape improvements such as widening the Ocean Avenue sidewalk with a bulb-out next to Howth Street, which allowed for the installation of a new, larger bus stop in front of the school.

The makeover also features seismic improvements, a two-story side addition, numerous internal reconfigurations such as wider hallways, and the conversion of a computer lab to a shop space. It includes 30 additional bicycle parking spaces and a 10-foot-tall sound wall along the I-280 frontage.

“I think it’s beautiful,” Sananman said. “It’s amazing. It’s so much more light-filled, and it’s a really welcoming entrance.”

The Planning Department had recommended that LWHS receive approval from a community organization before proceeding with the project. LWHS is used as a meeting place for community organizations, such Ocean Avenue Association and Bay Area Teacher Training Institute. The school gave a presentation to OAA, which endorsed the project.

“It’s a good contribution to the street,” OAA Executive Director Dan Weaver said.

The project started in 2014, and construction began in June last year, according to Temple. During construction, students moved into portable buildings in the LWHS parking lot that have since been removed. 

Temple expressed immense gratitude toward his neighbors for their patience during construction.

He also acknowledged the challenge of having the city departments involved work together. They included the Planning Department, Municipal Transportation Agency, Department of Building Inspection, Public Works and Public Utilities Commission.

Remaining items on the project list include finishing the parking lot as well as the curb ramp on Geneva Avenue and Louisburg Street. Benches are being installed in front of the school entrance and will be completed by next week, LWHS Director of Facilities Terry Eckhart said. Sananman said the announcement of the project’s completion will likely be in late January or early February 2019.

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