Throwback Thursday

THROWBACK THURSDAY: High School Musical - Katy Perry Edition

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!

Lakewood embodied a whole school spirit. (T)hey brought everyone together.
— Katy Perry

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. 

Transformation/Throwback Thursday: SAME MOUNTAIN | NEW LOOK

This long awaited transformation went underway in planning back in April 2014. Over two years later, Cheyenne Mountain High School's new look is rapidly taking shape as we near its final completion in 6 months.

A Colorado Springs school district with a high school facility built over 60 years ago is anxious for the completion of their new 21st Century home nestled along the historic Cheyenne Mountain range. Below are some then/now comparison images taken before the school went under construction, compared to their current redevelopment stage.  

The old school lacked the identity of a main entrance. The new entrance fuses the existing gym and the new academic wing and acts as a 'lantern' for the school. (Image from 8-17-16)

THEN (left) - NOW (right)

The new student commons, located where the old patio used to be, offers the opportunity for fresh air and a connection to nature. Multiple exits & glass garage doors allow for all-day access to the outdoors for students. The new commons patio also has access to power and electricity to allow for outdoor concerts, school events, etc. (After Image updated on 8-24-16)

In both images, the wall to the far right is the wall leading into the auditorium. The space was extended out and enclosed to form the new student commons and auditorium main entrance. (After Image updated on 8-3-16)

The difference in the corridors is drastic. No more fluorescent lights and narrow passageways! And unlike the original facility, all corridors will now have access to natural light and outdoor views. (After Image updated on 8-19-16)


  • 105,000 sf of NEW space for the high school
  • Nearly 100,000 sf of existing space is remodeled
  • EVERY classroom will be brand new by January 2017
  • Expanded social circulation corridors (12+ ft wide) 
  • Separate, private corridors for access to classrooms
  • Access to natural light in hallways and classrooms
  • Improved safety with a single, secured access point (the floorplan of the old school had over 120 unlocked and accessible doors at all times of day - Now, after the first bell rings, there will only be ONE public accessible door monitored by a security checkpoint)  
  • Safer/more accessible student parking and new pick up/drop off round-about zone
  • New 8,700 sf student commons with glass garage doors to exterior courtyard
  • An iconic 'front door' - giving the school a much needed, identified main entrance
  • A 'mountain modern' design aesthetic themed throughout the entire project
  • New energy-efficient mechanical systems with air conditioning and heating
  • Personalized classroom/community 'pods' for each department in the entire school
  • New baseball field and new softball field
  • Pieces and concepts from the old school are tied into the new additions (stay tuned as the project develops to learn about how we integrated parts of CMHS history and tradition into the new design)

Students and faculty will move into the Phase 1 buildings in August of 2016... Phases 2 (additional academic wings) will be completed by December 2016! Phase 2 will conclude the entirety of the project.

You may be wondering 'when will we start seeing green?'. As designers, a characteristic of the original school we worked hard to protect was access to natural environments. One feature students have always appreciated about CMHS was the ability to be outdoors in the refreshing mountain air throughout the day. The new design improves overall safety, yet maintains the integrity of this desire by enclosing the largest outdoor courtyard (over 51,000 sf in size) in the state of Colorado. Students will be able to walk outside between classes, enjoy time outside the common's garage doors during lunch, do homework at the outdoor bar-height tables and set up concerts outside with access to electricity/power on the patios - all within the safety of the new campus. It may have a 'new look' but students will still have the same exterior connection they love. While construction progress images don't show it quite yet, we have vibrant visions for new landscaping that will lusciously shape the entire school grounds. Working side by side with Thomas & Thomas, our plans for green space will begin development soon! Click on the images below for a glimpse at the outdoor concepts.

STOP! Let's not forget about #THROWBACKTHURSDAY

As CRP Architects and GE Johnson begin demolition of existing facilities to make way for the new academic wings, we are reminded of some of the unique applications from the past. These 'traffic lights' were originally custom designed to replace a traditional bell system so that local wildlife would not be disturbed by hourly high-pitched bell tones. Only in Colorado. Some alumni have been reminiscing on pieces of Cheyenne history as they prepare to see what new traditions unfold while honoring the ones now retired. 

The “traffic light” encasements scattered throughout the halls stood as a sentinel directing the movements and attention of Cheyenne Mountain High School students throughout the day. There were no bells to signal the end of a class or beginning of a new day. In 1962, the light system was devised to ensure the wildlife surrounding the “new” hillside school would not be disturbed. Bear, mountain lions and deer were common visitors to the school grounds. We governed our social and academic lives through careful surveillance of the light boxes. Laughter and talking would fill the halls as we would all gather between classes. Yet out of the corner of our eye, we would check to see which light was shining. Once the red light started blinking, all socialization ceased as we would scatter to our classroom knowing we only had one minute to get situated into our desks. Then throughout class, our eyes would fixate on the light directing us to how much longer we would need to endure the lecture, complete the test or finalize our experiment. Yellow meant we had 20 minutes left, green gave us hope as it indicated 10 minutes of class remained. And then, the glorious red light would appear celebrating the end of class. Then the routine would begin again. The lights may have come down with the “new-new” school, but the integrity, the traditions and the exceptional education provided to the students will always remain. The redesigned and updated facility will illuminate the lives of hundreds of children for many years to come.
— CMHS Alum, Class of 1981

Special thanks to Cheyenne alum - AGL Drone Services for the progress footage updates!

THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Evolution of Fountain Fort Carson High School

Fountain, CO was established in 1859 as a railroad shipping center for the agricultural community. The first Fountain school dates back to 1888 with the first high school being built in 1954 (pictured above), nearly a century after the town's birth and the same year Fort Carson was designated from Camp Carson. The city continued to flourish and a boom in population growth drove a need for growth in the local school district as well. The community was in need of a gathering space that gave home to the city's growing population of athletes, students and their immediate families. This inspired the first phase of what would grow to become the official Fountain Fort Carson High School - and the time in which CRP was brought on board to help build this legacy. 

The beginning of FFCHS was brought to life through a new pool and athletic facility completed in 1997. This became a hub for the city, allowing the students and locals to compete, play and gather in one space. With this facility creating the foundation, design and construction was immediately underway to provide the adjacent academic spaces. 

The initial academic wing, library/media center, gym and auditorium were all constructed by 1999. The Phase II addition replaced the original high school building. Classrooms were designed in a 'cluster' arrangement with ample access to natural light and views of the sweeping front range. The library/media center is faced with a glass curtain wall to provide desired day-lighting as well as the makings for an engaging work and study space.

As the student population continued to increase, Phase III was added in 2004 and included expansion of the academic spaces, the art program and industrial arts. The addition was one story but was structured to accommodate a future second story. This story was incorporated into Phase IV.

The final phase of the FFCHS campus was the commons remodel/addition and the addition of the second story from the Phase III academic wing. The new commons area expands out from the original building line and has become one of the most iconic and recognized features of the building.

The Faces Behind Fountain

Under the direction of CRP's original founder, Holger Christiansen, Chris Mannino and Matt Kubus worked on all four phases of FFCHS. Chris, now principal and partner, has designed and built facilities in Fountain for nearly 25 years. Both Chris and Matt enjoyed watching this project grow from start to finish and spent countless hours over a span of roughly 12 years ensuring every detail was creatively and responsibly executed.




The historic Guide Travel Building in downtown Colorado Springs not only represents the catalyst to CRP's birth but was also the firm's first home. Holger Christiansen, the founding principal, designed this geometrically aesthetic building in 1979 to house Colorado Springs' premier travel agency at the time as well as provide an office space for the architect himself.    

With its unique circular portico, the building stood out among the rest of the downtown street-scape. Attention to detail, honest materials and sharp geometry made for an engaging atmosphere, stirring an adventurous energy for travel-destined customers.

While the building may be from the hand-drawn era, the technology of its structure has withstood the test of time. Its presence still stands strong in our community after almost 40 years and multiple generations. As the travel industry transitioned to online bookings at the turn of the century, the space was molded to inhabit many different local businesses as the building's location is prime real estate in the downtown network. It's currently utilized by Michael F. Bennet - U.S. Senator of Colorado - for whom CRP also did the interior remodel for.