Well known Utah architect, Richard K.A. Kletting, designed the Oquirrh School in 1894. Although Kletting designed 10 schools in the Salt Lake area between 1892 and 1912, the Oquirrh School is the only one remaining. The school served the community's children for over 60 years until closing in the mid-1960s. As one of the earliest adaptive reuse projects in Salt Lake City, the building was purchased and divided into offices, saving it once from the wrecking ball. But the ceilings were lowered, open spaces enclosed, and over time maintenance deferred. Decades later, when some lost vision for the Oquirrh Schools, and when others saw nothing but headaches, The Children's Center saw an opportunity.
The rehabilitation of this four-story, 46,000 square-foot building, centered around making a healthy environment for the children and their families. With a goal of listing on the National Register of Historic Places, efforts were made to maintain the building's historic character while at the same time making it more sustainable and accessible for its occupants.
While challenging, innovative methods were used to fit new systems into existing spaces without making them immediately visible. Mechanical ducts were routed through old chimney flues which allowed the 14-foot ceilings to remain intact in the main lobby, reflecting the original Kletting design. The original classroom spaces have been reused for classrooms, and the attic space was opened to let natural light into an indoor activity room. The original finishes including sandstone, tile, wood flooring, and wainscoting were exposed and restored. The original triple width masonry walls allow the children to learn and play without transferring noise from one space to another.
The Oquirrh School has been enhanced and made more sustainable while maintaining its original purpose: providing critical services and education for the children in our community.
Utah Heritage Foundation presented the award to The Children's Center.
Principal Architect: Jill A. Jones, AIA, AJC Architects
General Contractor: Big-D Construction