OGDEN -- Members of the girls basketball team opened their eyes wide to take in the scenery as they entered the gym at DaVinci Academy of Science & the Arts for practice this week.
Their gazes didn't stray out of the southern bay of windows to another wing of the school in the historic building. They didn't peer through the northern panes for the vista of the Wasatch Mountains.
No, everything the girls had been hoping for was within the gym, restored and upgraded for seismic safety for about $300,000.
The work was done by Stout Construction, of Centerville, and the girls were the first student athletes allowed into the new space.
"It's beautiful," said Aidan Hueton, 13, an eighth-grader at the charter school.
"It's beautiful. It's gorgeous. The floor is great. We have been having P.E. in a room on the third floor, and you could jump there, but if you dropped a weight too hard so it bounced, there were certain parts of the floor where it might go through."
The new gym floor is accidentally beautiful, said Doug Clark, a member of the DaVinci Academy board. The emphasis was more on price than attractiveness when it was ordered, so the result surprised board members.
"It has two layers of plywood, a rubber spring layer and one layer of maple," Clark said. "There are three grades of maple, with one being the highest grade and the most expensive. It looks almost white. We got grade three."
The floor boards have an obvious grain, with individual boards that display both areas of light and dark coloring. Far from the uniform pale yellow of more expensive gym floors, DaVinci's floor has a random pattern and an artistic look that inspires thoughts of motion.
"The unintended consequence of grade-three maple was that, with the light and dark woods, it looks almost like parquet," Clark said.
Besides the tongue-in-groove floor, renovations have included removing the floor that divided the upper and lower spaces, and installing heating, cooling and ventilation.
The building was constructed in 1914, two years after the Titanic sank, to house the American Can Company, which operated until 1979.
The DaVinci Academy moved into a portion of the old building in 2004, but the space that is now the new gym was deemed unsafe and remained unused.
For the new gym, the original brick was sandblasted and left exposed, and the space was stabilized for earthquake safety with the addition of heavy metal beams painted in a dull red.
Again, the unintended effect of thrift was the creation of a trendy urban space. "It reminds me of the style they go for in a lot of fancy restaurants," Clark said.
But it's a gym, so basketball hoops drop so athletes can play one full court or four half-court games. The gym also includes a volleyball net, a scoreboard, a speaker system and locker rooms, and there will be rollaway bleachers to seat 100 fans.
"This is going to make a huge difference," Aidan said. "It will boost our confidence, and we can have spectators to cheer us on."
The home court advantage will be a new experience. In the past, students traveled in rented buses to practice or games at a rented court at the Marshall White Center.
"If you missed the bus and had to walk, it took forever, and the coaches didn't like you being late," Aidan said.
Busing was necessary for all of the school's teams: girls basketball, volleyball and soccer, and boys basketball and soccer.
"Everyone is stoked," said Jesslynn Anderson, physical education teacher and volleyball coach. "The students are excited to play here and have school support. There's a new passion and pride. They are really, really excited."
A focus on athletics was never the goal for establishing the DaVinci Academy, which focuses on the arts and sciences, Clark said.
"Personally, I believe physical fitness is just as important to the mind," he said. "I hope we never have football. To quote 'Pretty in Pink,' I wouldn't want DaVinci to turn into a 'jockocracy,' where the sport runs the school.
"But this is the first year for girls volleyball, and it warms my heart to see how excited they are to be in this new space. And I like the juxtaposition: I like seeing young kids in an old space with brand-new features, and just outside, a drop-dead view of the Wasatch Mountains that were here long before anything else."