By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 11, 2015 at 10:28 AM

In February, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors tapped Bay View-based Foundation Architects to design an addition at Fernwood Montessori School, 3239 S. Pennsylvania Ave., also in Bay View.

Work began this summer at the site, and now the 21,566-square foot addition, which includes a new gym, is going up along the west side of the building in the large playground. Even with the addition, the play area is still quite big, and there’s more space on the east side of the building, facing South Pennsylvania Avenue, including a labyrinth garden.

In addition to the new space, the project will modify about 11,000 square feet of the existing building, erected in 1927 to a design by MPS staff architect Guy Wiley. The same basic plan was used for a number of schools of the era, including Townsend Street, Neeskara, Garden Homes (now Lloyd Barbee Montessori) and Sherman Multicultural Arts.

The completed project – estimated to cost $9.6 million – will include new classroom space, a community room, a gym, a lunchroom and an enclosed outdoor courtyard. It is expected to be finished in August.

Foundation has also been hired to design a smaller addition at Maryland Avenue Montessori on the East Side. Seats at both successful programs are highly coveted and, thus, both schools face space issues (Maryland, in fact, has outgrown its space many times across its 150-year history on the site).

Maryland Avenue – where I am a member of the School Governance Council and the expansion planning group – is using two temporary classrooms erected on-site a couple years ago. Those will be removed upon completion of the addition, in time for the 2017-18 school year.

That more modest expansion will include four classrooms and a community room. The school community is also working to augment its green space as part of the project. Maryland Avenue’s rain garden, financed by grants and fundraising, was the first recipient of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s Green Luminaries award this year.

Foundation Architects Fernwood Montessori School renderings:

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.