20 Years Later: American Heritage School
A Relationship Beyond Business
The year was 1998 and it was Curtis Miner Architecture’s first project: Design a school that blends faith-based learning with the ideals of American liberty and freedom. Hard work, a strong design concept, and a client with a passion for its own mission made the American Heritage School an enduring success.
A private, faith-based school across the street from Mount Timpanogos Temple in American Fork, American Heritage School began with a design competition for a new 90,000 SF facility to replace a building the school had outgrown. Curtis Miner was in the process of starting his own business when he was asked to participate. He may have been tentative in responding, not sure he could win the competition, but Curtis felt strongly about his design approach: it was his duty as an architect to honor and uphold the school’s values in his work. “Where most buildings have an internal focus, I believed the school’s mission could be best represented by the temple and its values, so I designed the project so that the temple across the street became its focus,” he says.
Although some of the architectural symbolism may seem simple and unassuming, Curtis was very deliberate in his use of patterns and motifs seen on the Mount Timpanogos temple. “The architecture perfectly fits the mission of the school,” says American Heritage School Principal Grant Beckwith. “The circles signify an eternal perspective, while the squares indicate precision, integrity, and discipline.”
Where the design motifs celebrate the school’s core values, the materials, massing, and details on the façade of the building pays homage to the concepts and principles of the founding fathers. “Gaylord Swim, the Chairman of the Board in 1998, wanted colonial details like an Old Virginia red-brick style building. This tie-in to America’s founding reminds the school community of the providential hand in the founding of this country and makes the building timeless and beautiful,” says Curtis.
Twenty years have now passed since both the American Heritage School’s design competition and the establishment of Curtis Miner Architecture, and both continue to grow and expand. Together, American Heritage School and CMA recently completed the first phase of three for a new High School: the athletics facility. They are also working on the next phases, which will add classrooms and a performing arts facility. “[CMA] really wants to understand our mission and reflect that in their architectural work,” explains Beckwith. “The kind of questions they ask lead me to believe they care just as much about accomplishing our mission as they do about designing a great building. They understand the mission first, then create deep, lasting symbols of that mission through their artistry.”
Curtis sees how that initial relationship with American Heritage School has shaped his company over time. “They wanted the principles from the original building to be the same for the addition,” he mentions. “As the school has grown, our company has also grown to provide those additional services. We’ve grown together.”