Hundreds braved the early evening heat Thursday to celebrate the beginning of construction on a complete rebuild of Brighton High School. Parents, alumni, members of the Cottonwood Heights City Council, Canyons District administrators, Brighton’s High’s principal, teachers and members of Canyons’ Board of Education came to celebrate this milestone for the Bengal community with a ceremonial turning of dirt.
But most of all, there were students. From the band and cheer squad who performed the school’s Fight Song to the football players who put away the chairs, Brighton’s students filled the air with cheers in eager anticipation for the remake of their campus. “Any decisions we have made about the design of this new school has been with the students in mind,” Brighton Principal Tom Sherwood said. “The physical, emotional and educational welfare of students will always be at the forefront of our decision making.”
Brighton High is among three CSD high schools to be rebuilt or remodeled starting this summer with funds from a $283 million bond approved by voters in 2017. The bond will also be used to rebuild three other schools and build one new elementary school in west Draper, as well as school improvement projects.
After opening its doors in 1969, Brighton is fast approaching its 50th birthday — but a lot has changed in 50 years. “When this school was built, the state-of-the-art technology was black and white TVs,” Sherwood said. MHTN Architects and builders from Hogan and Associates Construction will use modern techniques to build a new school that is equipped to educate students in a modern age.
The new home of the Bengals will be built in phases over three years, starting with construction of a new auditorium, arts and CTE program spaces, where the existing school sits. Throughout the project, workers will be “building a new school on top of the old school, while still having school,” said Canyons Business Administrator Leon Wilcox.
Space is a premium on the campus, and there will be challenges during the build, most notably limited parking. But Wilcox said when the new school is completed, students and employees will have more parking space than they do now.
Other design features include a line of sight down the hallways for administrators and capabilities to lock down classrooms with the push of a button, in case of emergency. The school will have large windows and skylights to bring natural light into the commons area and classrooms, with an emphasis on small-group collaboration. Efforts to preserve elements of Brighton’s history are under way, including circular design elements that harken back to the school’s beloved circular halls.
Over the past half-century, alumni of Brighton have gone on to be accomplished scholars, athletes, government and industry leaders, artists and contributors to their communities. Canyons School District Vice President Nancy Tingey told the crowd she’s confident many more will join them over the coming years. “With the rebuild of the school, future generations of students will build memories here, too. … Whether your children are involved in sports, whether they have an affinity or math or passion for science, they will find in this school a welcoming place to thrive.”
Members of the community came to show support to the new school. Canyons Superintendent Dr. James Briscoe, Canyons Board of Education President Sherril Taylor, as well as members Steve Wrigley, Clareen Arnold, Mont Millerberg, and Shill and Tingey, who represent the Brighton area and feeder schools, were there, as well as Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, Utah School Board member Katherine Riebe and members of the Canyons Education Foundation.
“None of this would be possible without your support,” Shill told the audience gathered at the school. “This is possible because of those who had the vision to create this school district and the voters who showed confidence and trust in the Board of Education. This trust is not taken lightly.”
Construction Update: Brighton High Rebuild Enters Final Phase
The new home of the Bengals is quickly taking shape, and among the most remarkable features as you walk the halls of the three-story structure, are its stunning views.
Brighton High’s beloved circled halls give the 51-year-old campus character. But they have one major downside: They block natural light from classrooms and fail to capitalize on the school’s panoramic perch near the base of the Wasatch Range. Now, from the new building’s nearly-complete Arts and Technology Center, 180-degrees of natural inspiration can be drawn from practically any window.
“The naturally steep grade of the campus was challenging from a design and build standpoint, but it allowed Hogan & Associates Construction to build down, instead of up, which means we can take advantage of the views without obstructing the views of neighboring homes,” Principal Tom Sherwood says. “With all the natural light streaming in, and the high ceilings, there’s such a light, airy feel to the building. It has been a real mood-lifter for students and our faculty and staff.”
Completion of Brighton’s new auditorium and Arts and Technical Center marks the start of the final phase of the rebuild: Construction of a classroom wing to tie together the Arts and Technology Center and Athletics Facilities, which bookend the campus. The external walls of most of the classroom wing are already visible to passersby. MHTN Architects reports construction crews are on pace to complete the structure in time for next fall.
The new school is being built to seismic-safety standards, and is more energy-efficient. In square-footage, it’s actually smaller than Jordan High. “We were very cost-conscious and cognizant of the limited space we have at this site, and worked with architects to maximize the use of every classroom, closet, and corner,” Sherwood says.
Demolition of what’s left of the existing facility will take place in June 2021. Finishing touches to the grounds — landscaping, front parking areas and the outdoor plaza that will connect the main building to the Athletics Facility — will continue through the middle part of the 2021-2022 school year.
The auditorium, meanwhile, is expected to be cleared for occupancy in February, and portions of the Arts and Technical Center are already in use by the school’s marching band and performing arts classes as well as classes in robotics, wood shop, visuals arts, food preparation, and more. The high ceilings make for better acoustics in the music rooms, and make it possible for small audiences to enjoy rehearsals.
The new auditorium has the same capacity as its predecessor, approximately 1,100 seats, but feels more intimate with its warm wood interior. It’s also decidedly more high-tech with modern acoustic architecture, energy-efficient LED lighting, state-of-the-art sound, and a small theatre for daily use by performing arts classes and small seasonal performances.
April 11, 2019
Construction Update: A New ‘Home of the Bengals’ is on the Rise
Until now, most of the work to rebuild Brighton High has taken place behind the school where it’s not immediately visible to passersby. But starting this spring, steel girders and brick walls will rise from the foundations contractors have laid for two structures that bookend the campus: An arts and technology center to house visual and performing arts and career-and-technical education classes; and a physical education and athletics complex. Completion of these facilities, coupled with the newly rebuilt baseball and softball fields, will mark the end of the first phase of construction. “The idea was to keep disruptions to a minimum. We didn’t want classrooms impacted for the first 16 months of construction, so most of the heavy-duty work up until now has been foundational and in preparation for the next phase,” says Brighton Principal Tom Sherwood. Phase two will entail relocating some classrooms into the new arts and athletics buildings so that crews can tear down a portion of the existing building and replace it with a three-story wing of classrooms. Once the classrooms are completed, Hogan & Associates Construction will connect the two bookends and the final phase will wrap-up with improvements to the school grounds and parking lots. Starting in January 2020, Bengal assemblies and musical and theatrical performances will have to have to be staged at Butler Middle School. Also, Brighton will have to suspend its preschool program for two years. “We’ll have to get creative and find ways to share space and repurpose rooms. It will be challenging, but we’ll be able to occupy the new classrooms and arts and athletics buildings by fall 2020,” Sherwood says. “The end result will be a safe, high-quality learning environment that inspires students to set and achieve challenging goals.” For more information about the project, visit www.bond.canyonsdistrict.org.
Brighton High Celebrates Five Decades of Learning, Growing
With a complete rebuild underway of 50-year-old Brighton High, it could be said the school is coming full circle. Soon, alumni, students, faculty and staff will bid a fond farewell to the school’s signature circled halls, but not before the community has had a chance to celebrate five decades of Bengal traditions, personalities and history. Circle July 20 on your calendar for a full day of 50th anniversary events (see details below)—and take a moment now to register for the alumni association at brightonhigh50.com. Connect with friends on social media by sharing photos, love stories and memories under the hashtag #brightonhigh50. And give reunion planners a shout if you have memorabilia for temporary display or permanent storage in a Legacy Center to be housed in the new school building.
Sept. 12, 2018
Construction Update: Crews on Schedule with the new Brighton High
Rebuilding Brighton High poses the unique challenge of constructing a new school on top of the old school while school is in session. But there are upsides to tackling the project in phases—most notably, it makes it easier for architects to create a building that is truly responsive to the people for whom it’s being designed. Responsive design involves testing out ideas live in the early phases so as to allow students, employees, and patrons to provide meaningful feedback. During the first few days of school, for example, special attention was paid to how students and employees were navigating the campus. Adjustments were made to remove parking bottlenecks, impromptu pedestrian paths were lined with gravel, and signage was hung to more clearly demark emergency exits. “It took a few weeks for everyone to settle into new routines, and we had to make some adjustments. But it’s been a valuable process. Some of the changes we made will inform the design of the school going forward,” says the school’s Principal Tom Sherwood. Crews are on schedule and nearing completion of the first major project: Construction of new baseball and softball fields. As soon as the turf is installed, sometime in October, Hogan & Associates Construction will turn its attention to excavating and shoring up land to the west of the school in preparation for laying the foundation for a new auditorium. The auditorium and new athletics building on the east of campus are expected to be finished in 2020. For more information about the project, visit www.bond.canyonsdistrict.org.
Aug. 3, 2018
Construction Update: What’s Next for Brighton High?
The Brighton High rebuild may be the most surgical of three high school improvement projects to begin this summer. MHTN Architects are challenged with building a new school on almost the same footprint as the existing building without disrupting school activities. They have about 35 acres with which to work, about half the size of most high school campuses, and they’ve been told to keep the football stadium as is. If that’s not enough, a 35-foot drop in the grade of the property adds another degree of difficulty.
“Right off the get-go we realized that building anywhere on the Brighton campus is going to be a challenge,” said MHTN’s Associate Principal Scott Later at a recent community preview of the still-developing plans.
But with creativity, and the help of computer modeling software, the architects have devised a plan to build the new school in phases over three years, starting this summer with the performing arts and athletics facilities, which will bookend the current building to the west and east. Also at this time, the baseball and softball fields will be reworked to provide a new point of entry at the south end of the property. “For the first 16 months of construction no classrooms are impacted. We keep all our gymnasiums for activities and every single classroom untouched while we build these two structures,” says Brighton Principal Tom Sherwood.
Phase two will entail relocating some classrooms into the new performing arts and athletics facilities so that crews can tear down a portion of the existing building and replace it with a three-story wing of classrooms. Once they’re completed, the classrooms will connect to the two bookends. Work will then begin on the school grounds and parking lots.
Following are some of the planned features for the 400,000-square-foot facility to be funded with proceeds from a bond approved by voters in November 2017.
Safety and Security
The upgrades are being undertaken with safety and security foremost in mind. A priority of the new plan is to improve traffic flow, making it easier for students, employees, and visitors to safely enter and exit the campus. The Main Office will be located on the ground floor and have an unobstructed view of the building entrance. The footprint of the new building, which is located across the street from the Cottonwood Heights Police Department, will be such that administrators have a clear line of sight down hallways. Visitors are routed into the administration area to check in prior to entering the building. In the event of an emergency a panic button can be activated that will lock down classroom wings.
The building will be a modern interpretation on academic architecture. References to the existing circular school will be found in the flooring, circulation and site concrete patterns
Large windows and skylights will be added to bring natural light into the commons area and the classroom wings. Classroom windows that open onto commons areas for group study and teacher-collaboration are designed to contribute to a culture of transparency at the school.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to you envision teachers using the collaboration spaces?
The classrooms will be connected by corridors that have been expanded to make room for different types of group activities. Architects have had preliminary conversations with teachers who envision this being an area where group learning can occur. It could be a space where teachers gather to brainstorm and plan. Or it could serve as a pullout space where students receive tutoring, collaborate on projects, or complete online coursework. Its open design is meant to be inviting and inclusive while making it possible for teachers to monitor the area from inside their classrooms.
What opportunities will there be for community input?
With all of our schools, special care is taken to involve students, parents, teachers and the broader community in the planning process. We take pride in building schools that reflect the communities they serve and that serve those communities well — safe, high-quality learning environments that inspire students to set and achieve challenging goals. Throughout the design process, input was received from teachers, students, parents and elected officials, including the School Community Council. Safety issues were discussed at length with the Cottonwood Heights Police Department. Architectural plans were described in open Board of Education meetings and during a community Open House. Updates on the project continue to be published on Canyons District’s website.
What’s being done to preserve elements of the school that are rooted in history?
We’ve looked at ways that we can preserve the heritage, such as pulling references of the circular nature of the existing building into the design. You may see it in circular floor patterns and a circular stair that architects are exploring. There are ongoing discussions about preserving the Bengal tilework in the front lobby and replicating other iconic pieces of art.
What are plans for keeping trash and debris from traveling to the neighboring properties?
Construction zones can be messy, but every effort will be made to keep disruptions to a minimum, maintain safe access, and keep the work zone tidy and free of trash and debris.
Describe the wrestling facilities.
The wrestling room will be comparable to what’s available at Corner Canyon High. It will be big enough to fit full size competitive mats and a seating area for parents. The only difference is there won’t be an attached locker room, because the new campus will have plenty of locker room space in very close proximity. As an added convenience, there will be a pathway to take wrestling mats straight to the gym for competitions from the wrestling room.