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Making it happen at mt. brighton

Well-Known Ski Resorts Gets a New Facelift - and New Chair Lifts

By Mary E. Kremposky, Associate Editor

Whether the sun Is shining or the snow 1s falling, Mt. Brighton Resort has been an oasis for the work-weary for over 50 years. Spend a summer afternoon on the golf course or gliding down the slopes on a cold winter day. The need for rest and relaxation just doesn't have an off-season. Guests of this all season resort can now relax in style and comfort, and avid skiers will appreciate the new snow­making equipment and remodeled slopes, courtesy of our Rocky Mountain neighbors in the West - Vail Resorts of Broomfield, Colorado.

Once outdated and 1n decline, Mt. Brighton has been re-invented for the 21st Century, thanks to the two Brighton firms of Undhout Associates Architects (LAA) and Contracting Resources, Inc.

The project team transformed the facility in time for Vall Resorts to take advantage of the snowiest winter ever recorded in southeastern Michigan's history. Such a winter is a ski resort owner's dream, and this one was made possible by Vail's own dream team of LAA and Contracting Resources - a team that tackled a large transformation marked by a host of unforeseen conditions.

Of course, your average golfer or skier dining in one of the lodge's new eateries wouldn't even know of the intricate reworking of the existing plumbing and electrical systems. What would strike the average visitor is the visual switch from drab to dynamic in a short span of only five months. Hundreds of people lined up on opening day for their first glimpse of the new Mt. Brighton. "I could not believe the looks on people's faces as they walked into the place,• said Contracting Resources Project Superintendent Dan Hough. "People were stunned.”

Bold colors and an inventive melding of metal to existing brick are all part of the "urban edgy• design that is turning heads and attracting visitors. The re-use of the original chair lifts as actual chairs in the informal "picnic" eating area is a whimsical nod to the resort's long history. Clearly, this improved 52,000-square-foot lodge lives up to rts new entrance sign - Mt. Brighton: Where Epic Begins.

"Vail Resorts challenged our studio to create a contemporary, industrial treatment for the building's existing facade," said LAA Project Manager Dave Richardson, RA, LEED AP.

LAA dearly met the challenge. On the exterior, the lodge's original brick has a host of innovative metal elements, ranging from a wall of perforated aluminum near the ticket area to a Daredevil Red Painted canopy that suggests the tip of an upturned ski or snowboard. "Expanded metal, perforated aluminum, "Daredevil Red" paint and fiber cement board form the exterior palette," said Richardson. "The same materials highlight areas of the interior, as well.

"Overall, Undhout's designer, Vanessa Fuller, Assoc. ASID, LEED AP, took the corporate, marketing palette from Vail Resorts and integrated the fabrics, metals, carpet, quartz surfaces and paints into a vibrant interior,• Richardson continued. "This dynamic combination, along with the new exterior, plays off of the energy from all of the ski hill activities and helps to make Mt. Brighton into a fun destination."


Both LAA and Contracting Resources were brought on board at about the same time, working with the concentrated swiftness of a champion skier hot dogging down a slalom course. The goal: Meet a Thanksgiving Day grand opening for the 2013/2014 ski season. "It was a fast schedule , considering LAA began designing in April, June was reserved for bidding and contract awards, and we started work in early July,• said Contracting Resources Director of Preconstruction John Jickling. "In the end, the resort actually opened before Thanksgiving.•

Design: Once Vail brought LAA on board, "we were able to quickly generate a number of schemes that the Vail Resort development team was able to review," said Richardson. "Ultimately, notable elements from two schemes were combined into the final design solution that formed a bold, new entrance."

Bidding: The team went to work immediately, quickly discovering that the project bids were coming in higher than the budget. Vail, LAA and Contracting Resources spent two days identifying cost savings. ·we simplified the scope of some mechanical and electrical systems," said Jickling. 

“We worked towards getting a better cost on food service equipment for the two restaurants, and we made the determination not to even touch some areas of the building, such as the rental area and the rental area toilet rooms."

Construction: Construction began the first week of July 2013. As one hurdle, Contracting Resources worked around the existing Bauery Restaurant, keeping it open for business for the entire July-to-September golf season.
Adding even more complexity to the project was the host of unforeseen conditions uncovered in a facility originally built in the 1960s. "What surprised me the most was the plumbing and electrical systems that originated on the lower level," said Contracting Resources Project Superintendent Dan Hough. "There were a lot of cross connects, and a lot of water valves that didn't clearly indicate what they exactly controlled. There were a lot of electrical issues that we came across that realty threatened to add time and money to the project. With the help of our contractors, we were able to work through all of those challenges.•

Contracting Resources Project Manager David Melville added, • Almost all of the electrical for the building was rewired conipletety. We got with the client quickly, and they understood the urgency of the schedule. They responded and allowed us to proceed with the financial resources and what we needed in order to keep on schedule.•

With the aid of savvy electrical and HVAC contractors, the project team remedied both the outdated systems and inserted contemporary features, such as LED lighting. According to Richardson, "The owner elected to use design/build as an answer for the mechanical and electrical systems. A few areas only needed repair, but the larger assembly areas needed wholesale system replacements and upgrades. Frank Struble of MAS Electrical, Livonia, and L.J. Jim Rolls of Rolls Refrigeration, Fenton Township, were up to the challenge. MAS also collaborated with LAA in order to come up with high-efficiency LED lighting for the parking lot, entryway and new food service areas, and Rolls designed cost-effective ways to deliver make-up cooking and ventilation air within the existing structure."


Contracting Resources peeled back the layers of outdated finishes, installing a bright wash of color set off against new metal and wood elements. Bold bursts of deep purple, orange and green brighten the interior and ripple through the new carpeting. On the lower level, Contracting Resources installed new paint, carpeting, and millwork in a central area called Mogul Mouse, the children's area for ski instruction, as well as a warm-up area between ski classes for "recovering" with sandwiches and hot cocoa. According to the Mt. Brighton website, "The new children's ski and ride center has been designed specifically for them with pint­sized dining and play areas and will offer innovative skiing and riding programs unmatched in the Midwest."
Three different locker rooms also received a Mt. Brighton makeover, including new lockers, new flooring, and new paint. As the project progressed, Vail expanded funding and re­inserted the items that were initially cut from the project, essentially allowing the entire lower level to be completely renovated. "We ended up renovating the rental area and the rental area restrooms in the lower area," said Jickling.


On the upper-level, Contracting Resources retained the original wood beams and wood tongue and groove ceiling, the precast plank floors and the masonry brick walls. "It had good bones, and we kept most of the structure that was properly put together," said Jickling.

Similar to the lower level, Contracting Resources uncovered structural, electrical and plumbing anomalies, while retaining the basic core of the building. Contracting Resources also added a whole new level of contemporary finishes, along with new restrooms and a new kitchen food service area. The new kitchen services a host of new eateries, including the Ski Hill Grill, Bruhn's Bar and the Ore Creek Mountain Grill, all serving great food 1n the glow of LAA's dynamic new design.

Once the Ski Hill Grill was open and golf season sadly ended, construction activities shifted to the renovation of the existing Bauery kitchen and restaurant, since renamed as Ore Creek Mountain Grill. Once demolition of this area commenced, there were several unknown structural conditions that had to be documented and corrected quickly. This required a great deal of communication between Contracting Resources, LAA, Vail Resorts, and Jim Rowell of the

Livingston County Building Department.

"There was evidence of some fire damage that was covered up in four locations in the Bauery Restaurant," said Hough. "Again, we found very substandard repairs to structural issues, so we were forced to gut the whole area and even take the wood plank floors out."

The project team was able to overcome the additional demolition and repair work and bring the restaurant and the entire building to completion on schedule. Hough sums up this challenging makeover of Michigan's man-made mountain resort: "The end dates were set, the expectations were high, the owner was firm but fair, but we knew the mission. We assembled a team that knocked down all the obstacles. We made it happen."


The exterior also received quite a facelift. New metal meets existing brick to set the tone for the entire facility. "We had at least four different metal fabricators working on the project to create that look," said Melville. "All the metal is custom fabricated; the details of assembling the components properly took a great deal of pre engineering, review and field meetings to make it happen."

According to Richardson, "Due to an accelerated schedule, the various metal work was divided up into four bid categories: Larry Lesniak of Welk-ko Fabricators, Livonia, handled the installation of the new steel canopy and repurposed lift chairs; Steve Fuller of Ann Arbor Fabrication, Inc., Dexter, handled the expansion of the metal sign panel, rusted fireplace accents, and expanded metal decor panels; Jason Smith of Michigan Custom Fabrication, Pinckney, managed the expanded metal casework and ceiling panels; and Eric Cook of CEI Michigan, LLC handled the installation of perforated aluminum wall panels.'

Exterior renovations also included painting, window replacement and construction of a new set of stairs down to the bottom of the ski slope, as well as installation of barrier-free access in the form of an elevator, added Jickling.


The actual skiing has never been better at Mt. Brighton. While outside of Contracting Resources' scope of work, Vail Resorts has made improvements to the actual ski slopes, installed new quad chair lifts and created an innovative new terrain park for snowboarders and skiers. In order to improve the beginner ski and snowboard experience, Mt. Brighton has relocated some rope tows and replaced some others with new lifts called Magic Carpets, which are surface lifts similar to a "people mover• at the airport. Other improvements include re-grading the beginner trails to help improve the learning experience.

Vail Resorts has also installed more robust snowmaking equipment capable of producing a higher quality snow surface and with triple the capacity of the former system. As part of a scope expansion, Contract Resources built a new pump house to shelter the pumps designed to transport water from the lagoon to the snow-making equipment, said Jickling.

Vail Resorts turned on its new snowmaking equipment on Nov. 22 - the Friday before Thanksgiving 2013. By Monday, 30 inches of man-made snow was piled on the slopes of Mt. Brighton. Contracting Resources knew that as soon as the snow making equipment was activated, skiers would be lined up for that first run down the mountain. "Like the resort, we were ready for business on Monday, Nov. 25," said Jickhng.

As the final step in this amazing transformation, Contracting Resources put the finishing touches on the new Ore Creek Mountain Grill restaurant on Dec. 14, 2013. "We know quite a few people that either drive by or are avid skiers," said Melville. We still get comments on how much of an impressive transformation was made in virtually only five months from July to November.'

LAA also provided architectural services for the simultaneous renovation of another Vail resort - the Afton Alps near Minneapolis. A new visitor center facade was modeled, as well as what the resort refers to as the "Landing Zone" or LZ that serves as the new terrain park village. Some similar materials from Mt. Brighton were used for this contemporary makeover, including perforated aluminum, steel frames and decorative metal siding. In addition, a food truck was permanently installed as a snack bar in the LZ."

Michigan's design and construction clearly has the talent and expertise to make the old new again. Thanks to both firms and Vail Resort, Michigan golfers can enjoy the new eateries and skiers and snowboarders can look forward to the next winter season at Mt. Brighton.

Mt. Brighton Resort
Owner: Vail Resorts Development Co., Broomfield, CO
Architect: Lindhout Associates Architects, AIA, Brighton
Construction Manager: Contracting Resources, Brighton

Trade Contractors:

  • Doors, Frames. Hardware/Toilet Partitions/Accessories/Extinguishers/lockers - Rayhaven Group, Southfield
  • Paver System - Northville Lumber Co., Northville
  • Steel - Welk-kc Fabricators, Livonia
  • Concrete - Charles Sinelli & Sons, Milford
  • Masonry - James Ross Construction, Hartland
  • Roofing/Siding/Panels - CEI Michigan, LLC, Howell
  • Aluminum/Glass Glazing - Crystal Glass, Wixom
  • Metal Studs/Drywall/Acoustic, Finish Carpentry-Shaffer Construction, South Lyon
  • Elevators - Wright & Filippis, Rochester Hills
  • HVAC - W Rolls Refrigeration, Fenton
  • Electrical - MAS Electrical, Farmington Hills
  • Metal Panels - Ann Artier Fabrication, Dexter
  • Plumbing - JM & Sons Plumbing, Brighton
  • Food Service - Hockenbergs, Denver. CO
  • Custom Metals - Michigan Custom Fabricators. Pinckney
  • Hard Tile - Shamrock Flooring, Ann Arbor
  • Painting - United Painting, Clinton Township
  • Metal Railings - Ideal Shield, Detroit
  • Carpet - Conventional Carpet, Sterling Heights
  • Overhead Doors - Overhead Door West, Waterford
  • Millwork Point of Sale Fixtures - KGL Trimworks, Pinckney
  • Pole Barn, Rough Carpentry, Install Paver System - Reid Builders, Howell
  • Millwork- Sobania, Inc., Detroit