As designers, it's a commonality that some of our favorite moments in creating a new building is seeing how it inevitably gets used over time - witnessing the unique, sometimes unexpected character that people bring to the space once our job is done.
However, no one could have predicted the 'fierce' way in which students of Lakewood High School would bring vibrant life to their new facility in Lakewood, CO.
So, what does this have to do with Katy Perry?
We'll get into that. But first, let's flashback a little further into some CRP project history...
Back in early 2000, CRP was brought on to help re-imagine the future for Lakewood HS in Jefferson County Public School District. In 2002, we completed an auditorium remodel for the nearly 40+ year old facility. However, this was the preceding preparation for the monumental remodel/addition project that would begin construction four years later. In 2007, we completed a $32 million redesign of the school which included 126,000 sf of additions and 110,000 sf of remodeled spaces. The LHS Tigers were ecstatic to show some tiger pride for their new home and the start of a new era for the JEFFCO school.
It wasn't until 6 years later, that expressing their school pride would not only 'go viral' but would also land the attention of the one and only 21st century pop-star, Katy Perry.
In 2013, Perry announced a nation-wide competition asking high schools to submit their own music video rendition of her (at the time) recently released song, 'Roar'. The competition was not only used to gain hype for her album release later that year but also to inspire students to let their inner ROAR be heard. She wanted to see the power in numbers as well as the creative, story-like interpretations of the song's message.
Being Tigers themselves, Lakewood High School seized the opportunity to let their roar be heard around the world. Little did we know, our newly renovated facility would become the backdrop for this student-lead production as well as aid the school's creative concept in how the video would be filmed - in a SINGLE, continuous shot.
Take a look for yourself...
The Lakewood HS video submission was an instant crowd favorite as it not only physically involved the whole school building, it involved the ENTIRE student body. Every sport, every club and every student was celebrated and represented in Lakewood's 'Roar' creation. Passions were shared. A story of unity was told. The tiger pride was overwhelming. And the sense of community was undeniably powerful.
Which is why LHS won the video competition, made their debut on Good Morning America and received a private concert in the school's gymnasium from Katy Perry herself!
As designers, we spend countless hours and sometimes years of our lives hashing out every detail of a project and trying to work through any possible scenario of how various spaces will be used over time. We do extensive research, work with engineers and listen to in-depth feedback from user groups to understand every objective in the overall design. But the real magic of this profession is what happens when the drawings are rolled up, the contractors have applied the final coat of paint and the keys are ceremoniously handed over. For this is the moment that the user outcome of our meticulously planned projects has the chance to turn around and surprises us. This is when we see how the spaces get used - how people interact within the built environment and with one another. A designer's intent may be translated into new possibilities in the user's hands. Expected or surprising, not every scenario of the building's use can be predicted. One day, you may think you've merely designed a new high school but you unknowingly may have just created the backdrop for the next pop-star inspired, nationally recognized music video or the platform for a publicly televised concert venue.
But the most meaningful compliment to a project's outcome is being just as proud of the people that inhabit our spaces as we are in having the opportunity to create those spaces. CRP is honored to have had even a remote role in Lakewood's tale of empowerment. Buildings wouldn't have a story if it weren't for the users, the people, who create its story. And what we took away from this spirited community was invaluable: Expect the unexpected.
Seeing thousands of students come together and demonstrate the true meaning of 'building community'... now that's something to ROAR about.