slc library competition

Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects with Prescott Muir Architects
New York, NY/Salt Lake City

“Salt Lake City would receive a ‘terrific library’ from the design of any of the four firms selected as finalists for the project, a city library board member said last week.

Alexius M. Gallegos, chairman of the library board’s buildings and grounds committee, said he and other members of an advisory committee had a very difficult job trimming a list of 22 applications of interested firms to six semifinalists and two alternates. And it was even more difficult Wednesday to reduce that list to four finalists, Gallegos said Thursday during a meeting of the board at the main library.

Plans for selection of an architect and construction of a new library are under way after voters authorized an $84 million general obligation bond last November. Approval of the bond issue, which means an increase in property taxes and an additional tax hike because of projected increased operating expenses, also means other work on the block east of the City-County Building.

Kenneth Luker, library board chairman and a member of the advisory committee, said it was very difficult to remove firms from the list because ‘they all had terrific ideas and potential’ for designing a fine library.

Gallegos joked that the committee has been offered no bribes, a reference to Salt Lake’s current Olympics scandal. He said his group based its decision solely on the architectural firms’ qualifications, presentations and their ability to work with the board and the community.” (Four architect firms are finalists for library, Deseret News, Jan 25, 1999)

William P. Bruder Architect Ltd. with Thomas Petersen Hammond Architects (now called Architectural Nexus)
Phoenix, Arizona/Salt Lake City

“‘These four design teams represent some of the finest architectural talent in the country,’ said library director Nancy Tessman.

She said an exceptional field of 22 nationally and internationally renowned architectural firms responded to the library’s request for qualifications, which was released in December. In early January the field was narrowed to six and finally to the top four.

A series of workshops involving the architects, the library staff, the library board, the Friends of the Salt Lake City Library and an advisory committee that selected the finalists will be Feb. 23-24 and March 15-16.

The workshops will provide an opportunity for participants to interact with the architectural design teams as they present and discuss design concepts and directions they would take regarding the new library.

In mid-April the four architectural teams will make their final presentations at a public meeting. This won’t include a specific schematic model of the proposed new library. Rather, the meeting will be centered on a presentation of the design concepts that represent the work and philosophy of the firm and reflect the discussions of the previous six weeks.

The library board plans to announce the selection of a design team by April 30.” (Finalists for library redesign to offer plans, Deseret News, Feb 2, 1999)

Moore Ruble Yudell with Gruen Associates and Eaton Mahoney Associates
Santa Monica, California/Los Angeles/Salt Lake City

“I mentioned the New York Public Library competition when I gave a public lecture in connection with a recent architectural competition for the new Salt Lake City Public Library. The library board had conducted a national search for an architect, visited new libraries across the country, and solicited proposals from prominent architects. They had narrowed their list to four firms: Charles Gwathmey and Robert Siegel are respected New York architects with a long record of university buildings and museums, including a new library of science, industry, and business for the New York Public Library system. Moshe Safdie had built major civic buildings in Israel, Canada, and the United States, and recently completed the public library in Vancouver, British Columbia. Moore Ruble Yudell is a Los Angeles firm founded by the late Charles Moore, with whom John Ruble and Buzz Yudell built several university libraries and a public library in Berlin. Will Bruder, the least well known of the four, is a southwesterner and the architect of the new, well-regarded Phoenix Public Library.

I told my audience that I thought that the Salt Lake City library board would have a more difficult choice than their nineteenth-century New York counterparts. It was not a question of function. The Salt Lake City librarians had prepared an equally exhaustive program of requirements, so whichever architect was chosen commodity probably would be well served. As for firmness, I was reasonably sure that any of these experienced firms would build soundly. It was the consideration of delight that would make the selection harder. Gwathmey and Siegel design crisply detailed, understated buildings in a latter-day version of the International Style. Safdie, too, is a modernist, but he follows in the footsteps of Pei, and his buildings are frankly monumental – the Vancouver library had been likened to the Roman Coliseum. Moore Ruble Yudell’s work is different. Informal and animated, their eclectic Postmodern designs are likely to include ornament and architectural motifs drawn from their surroundings. Bruder, on the other hand, designs chic buildings that incorporate exposed structural elements, rough industrial materials, and sleek details. Building on the same site, fulfilling the same functional requirements, and using the same up-to-date construction technology, the four firms would produce libraries that would look different.

The library board awarded the commission to Moshe Safdie, and a year later the plans for the new building were unveiled. The new library will feature an unusual triangular-shaped main building and a curving wall-like structure that encloses a public square.” (Witold Rybczynski, ‘The Look of Architecture,’ New York, Oxford University Press, 2001, pages 76-79)

Moshe Safdie and Associates with Valentiner Crane Brunjes Onyon Architects
Somerville, Massachusetts/Salt Lake City

Images from (Salt Lake City Library Competition)

antelope island visitors center

Antelope Island is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake, and probably the most beautiful. Its magnificent scenery provides a mix of grassland and desert. The Visitors Center is located at Ladyfinger Point on the island’s north end and acts as an educational and resource center for the Great Salt Lake ecosystem. Completed in 1995 by EDA Architects, the Visitors Center is a good example of the quality work this local firm in downtown SLC is capable of.

View of the Salt Lake and surrounding mountains

Buffalo of Antelope Island

In mid-1993, the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation considered developing the island with multiple visitors centers, lodges, restaurants, a small strip mall, historical markers, and hiking trails. The goal was to seek a balance of meeting visitor needs with protection of the island environment. Fortunately the commercial development portion never saw the light of day. “The power of Antelope Island is in its stark beauty,” said author Terry Tempest Williams, whose book Refuge brought international attention to the Great Salt Lake. “The notion of a strip mall residing on the flanks of this wild place strikes me as the worst possible intrusion. If a museum or educational center or a restaurant or even a strip mall are in the minds of our state park managers, let them stake their claim somewhere in Davis County. The question I have for the state is, ‘When will we learn to restrain ourselves?’ We need silence more than we need entertainment.”

Natural wildflowers of Antelope Island

Google Maps aerial image

“Mitch Larsson, longtime park manager at the island, said limited commercial development of the park would entice visitors to stay longer. That means more money for local economies.

Mr. Larsson told a group of teachers taking a class on the island last weekend that a small strip mall and restaurant were being considered. On Monday, he said he envisions a ‘Mount Rushmore-type visitor center.’ This likely would include an information center, lookout observation deck, restaurant and gift shop.

The state also would consider building a motel or lodge near the new marina, Terry Green, chief planner for the parks agency said. Any commercial development would be based on public demand and the Division of Parks and Recreation’s own environmental studies.”

(From ‘Buffalo, Strip Mall to Roam Antelope Island?’, Salt Lake Tribune, Apr 20, 1993)

Back side of visitors center

‘Antelope Island Park to Get Visitor Center’
Salt Lake Tribune, Feb 18, 1995

“A sleek, stylish, low-profile visitor center along Ladyfinger Ridge on the northern knob of Antelope Island State Park will emphasize the importance and power of the natural landscape while acquainting visitors with the ambience of the Great Salt Lake and the island.

Contracts for the $1.6 million structure will be let this spring with completion set for Memorial Day of 1996, said Courtland Nelson, director of the Utah State Division of Parks and Recreation.

Antelope Island State Park and its 28,022 acres is connected to the mainland by a 7 ½ -mile modern two-lane causeway road and is seven miles west of Interstate 15 Exit 335 near Layton in Davis County.

Designed by Peggy McDonough of EDA Inc. Architects, formerly Edwards and Daniels, the Visitor Center will encompass 5,200 square feet. There also will be parking for 50 cars and pull-through spaces and a bus turnaround. The one-story cast-in-place concrete structure will include aggregate from the site to give the appearance of being integral with the surroundings.

The roof framing for the central portion of the center will be exposed timbers salvaged and recycled (sawed and planed) from the 12-mile railroad trestle which spanned the northern arm of the Great Salt Lake as part of the Southern Pacific Railroad Lucin Cutoff.

Burke Cartwright of EDA Inc. Architects said the recycled timbering is the best-quality redwood and fir and lends enormously to the heft and feel of the Visitor Center as a part of the natural landscape.

Heavy timber framing tied into concrete structure

The center takes on the role of being one of transition and introduction to the lake and the island, rather than a point of destination. ‘After all, the island is the destination, not the building,’ McDonough explained.

To complete the feeling of being a part of the landscape on Ladyfinger Ridge, a sod roof planted with native grasses will delineate a portion of the extended building, while the remainder of the roof will be in keeping with the irregular jagged nature of the rock outcroppings surrounding the ridge.

The building’s form is linear in nature, respecting the topography. It is low to minimize the effect of prevailing storm winds from the northwest, and the silhouette is in accord with the terrain.

‘It wouldn’t do to have an obtrusive profile jutting up atop the ridge,’ Cartwright said.

‘This design is perfect for the subtle grade of its desert surroundings,’ he added. ‘It couldn’t be put anywhere else.’

The entryway will offer exterior access to men’s and women’s restrooms; the interior exhibit area includes one large room and a central long room running the entire length of the facility.

A bookstore and gift shop will include an information desk at a central location to the store and the exhibit area.

A multiuse room will allow audio-visual presentations and lectures and an area for conference use with a view to the north. The center will be handicapped-accessible.

Some vending machines will be available, but there will be no food concession areas as such. There are picnic areas within close proximity of the center, and concessionaires on the beach nearby.”

Interior showing the main linear axis of building

‘Antelope visitors center designed to fit its setting’
Deseret News, Feb 8, 1995

“Architect Burke Cartwright said the center is being designed to fit the topography of its ridgeline site so it ‘looks like it has emerged from the site, belongs on the site, rather than being imposed on the site.’

Visitors will approach the center slightly uphill from parking lot, Cartwright explained, then enter and walk through a reception area and bookstore leading to the exhibits. Outside, hard surface paths will lead to observation points and outdoor exhibits.

The restrooms and outdoor exhibit areas will be accessible even when the center is closed, Cartwright said.

The exhibit areas will have carefully framed views of the island, Great Salt Lake, and back toward the mainland, he said.

An example of a framed view the building provides, looking back at the causeway used to travel to the island.

Exterior framed view looking north

Native rock from the island will be used in some of the center construction, Cartwright said, but the walls will be built of poured concrete textured and tinted to blend in with the surroundings.

The native stone on the island can be used for some decorative work but is generally too porous for use as a primary construction material, he said.

Some site work has been done already and Cartwright said a three-dimensional model of the center could be prepared within a couple of weeks, and construction will start in the spring. He projects the center will be open by Memorial Day weekend of 1996.”

There is an amphitheater around the back side of the building


This image of the Visitors Center is currently part of the home page of EDA Architects

If you look closely, you can see the visitors center off in the distance in the upper left of this image. This gives a feel for how the building acts as an integral part of the landscape, rather than as an object in a field.

sad day…

(Image Source)

In case you haven’t heard, Salt Lake lost a treasure today. 1547 Yale Avenue in the Yalecrest Historic District was torn down by the owner, Tom Hulbert. The home is right in the heart of the Historic District, a district that was the feature of the 2009 Utah Heritage Foundation Home Tour.

The home was purchased by the present owners in 2007, at the very same time the Yalecrest district received the designation from the National Register of Historic Places. From the owners website, they felt it was a “beautiful home” and desired to expand on the 2700 square foot home “by adding an addition to the rear of the home.” If you click over to the owners website, you cannot read the text unless you highlight it for some reason. He goes through the decision-making process and attempts to defend his actions.

Apparently there were structural problems that needed to be addressed in this 1924 home. According to the engineers on the project, the cost to restabilize the home for another 80 years would have only been $150,000. The owner is not willing to pay that, but is willing to pay upwards of $1 million to build a new 7,200 square foot home? $100/square foot for a 7,200 square foot home will cost $720,000. And I doubt he will get the new home for that cheap.

The owners website documents what they want to do and why, but it all feels hollow and forced. He is thorough, but ultimately made a poor choice. What he and the community of Salt Lake lost is irreplaceable, no matter what home is built there now. In a historic district and neighborhood, there is almost always the option of restoration or new foundation work, which would be cheaper than starting over. And comparing the original home to the new design, well, there really is no comparison.

(Image source)

My number one question is: Why didn’t he think to have an 85-year-old home checked out before purchasing to see if there were structural deficiencies and to confirm that he would be able to easily add onto it as was his original plan? THE HISTORIC HOMES AND UNIQUE ARCHITECTURE ARE THE ATTRACTION OF THIS NEIGHBORHOOD that he moved into. So he moves in and two years later has destroyed the very thing he purchased that helps make this neighborhood beautiful and unique! I truly do not understand.

To their credit, they actually tried to sell the home earlier this year. On the 28th of April 2009, the home was put on the market for $945,000. On the 11th of June 2009, the home price was reduced to $899,500. After 62 days, less than a month ago, it was taken off the market. According to the Salt Lake Tribune article, there was an $875,000 cash offer that they declined and opted to destroy the home instead and start over.

I love the remarks included in the real estate report when the home was on the market, “Curb appeal is unbeatable! Home has been prepared for total remodel.”

(Image source – Salt Lake Tribune)

Prior to receiving a demolition permit, a building permit was approved for the new home. While the new design at least has some sensitivity to the site, it is still a 7,200 square foot home. That’s quite an addition. So you mean to tell me that they would have been happy with their existing 2,700 square foot home purchase and a small addition in the back, even if there were no foundation problems? That’s a far cry from this new 7,200 square foot home. It sounds like this is what they wanted from the beginning. In todays slow high-end market, an $875,000 offer for the existing home was a good one. They could have taken it and built their 7,200 square foot home in almost ANY OTHER NEIGHBORHOOD IN UTAH and no one would have cared one bit. But instead they chose to destroy a treasure of the city in one of the few Historic Districts Salt Lake City has. What a travesty. What a loss. What a sad day.

City Wide Historic Preservation Master Plan
City Weekly article

View salt lake architecture in a larger map

upper main street buildings 1910-1911

Christmas News cover
Drawing by Ellis —–

This beautiful illustration shows the Templeton Building, Bishops Building, Deseret News Building, Vermont Building, Deseret Gymnasium, Salt Lake Temple, Hotel Utah, and the Pioneer Monument. Of the eight structures shown, only the Hotel Utah, Pioneer Monument, and Salt Lake Temple are still standing. I was unfortunately not able to find any information about the artist of this piece. (Image from Deseret Evening News 18 Dec 1909)

mount tabor lutheran church

The Mount Tabor Lutheran church simultaneously provides its sanctuary users with an intimate feel from the small footprint size, to a grand feel from the height of the volume above the altar. This height continually draws your gaze upward and allows abundant natural light to flow in from above. Amazingly, 240 people can fit in the six rows of seating, drawing everyone close to the ceremony. The classrooms are above the seating in the sanctuary and visually link to the main worship space through a series of slots beneath the circular glass tower. These slots open up to a circular corridor that serves all the classrooms. The six exposed angular wood columns visually and structurally link all three levels together.

Building Timeline
1959 – Decision to relocate the congregation from South Temple
1960 – Purchase of one acre site at 7th East and 2nd South
6 Jan 1963 – Groundbreaking
2 Jun 1963 – Cornerstone laid
Jul 1963 – Completed
8 Mar 1964 – Dedicated
1996 – Expansion of entrance areas, office space, handicap accessibility, and classrooms

The church was designed by retired architect Charles D. Peterson, a member of the congregation, who spent much of his career in Salt Lake, with an office in the Walker Building on Main Street. I had an enjoyable meeting with Charles at his Cottonwood home, where he was gracious enough to give me a blueprint copy of the plans and a section of the building. The first concept, as seen in the image and newspaper article below, was a hexagon. Later, the plan changed to a circle, which is what was eventually built. Another member of the congregation, Sig Zander, built the altar and pews.

From what I have been told, Mount Tabor has a strong music program and supports a number of ministries in the downtown area, including the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen, the Utah Food Bank, and Crossroads Urban Center.

Tabor Bears Plans for New Church
Salt Lake Tribune 14 Oct 1961

“A ‘new look’ in churches will grace the downtown area when the proposed $120,000 Tabor Lutheran Church is constructed on the northeast corner of 2nd South and 7th East.

Architect’s sketches of the structure which has been in the planning stages for some time, were revealed Friday by the Rev. Arthur W. Sorensen, pastor.

An unusual, hexagon-shaped building, the new Tabor church will feature central seating in a semicircle around the altar, Pastor Sorensen said.

The seating plan will accommodate as many as 240 persons in only six rows, he added. The centrally located altar will be the focal point of the main floor of the two-story structure. A basement is also in the plans and will be used for a Fellowship Hall and Sunday School.

Eight classrooms will be built on the second floor, which will be a mezzanine-type arrangement overlooking the sanctuary. A large cross will hang suspended on wire from the ceiling of the church over the altar.

Other rooms in the church will include a kitchen, nursery, pastor’s study and a parish worker’s office.

The exterior will feature a multicolored glass tower and the lower part of the building will be a brick facing.

Designed by Charles D. Peterson, Architect, the structure will be only the first phase of the Tabor church’s construction plans.

The church has been designed with the intent of expanding on the north end when the growth of the congregation warrants such a move.

Pastor Sorensen said he is planning ground-breaking ceremonies for early spring.

The present Tabor Lutheran Church is located at 61 E. St.”

Preliminary hexagon design – image taken from Salt Lake Tribune 14 Oct 1961.

Main floor plan. Existing buildings have since been demolished and an additional wing has been added to the north side of the circular plan. From blueprint drawing of architect Charles Peterson.

Basement plan and 2nd floor plan. From blueprint drawing of architect Charles Peterson.

Section through building. From blueprint drawing of architect Charles Peterson.

Mt. Tabor’s Specialty: ‘Religion in the Round’
Salt Lake Tribune 26 Mar 1977

“One of Salt Lake City’s more unique churches, at least from an architectural viewpoint, is Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church. 175-7th East, constructed in the round.

It’s probably the only round church in Utah, said Mt. Tabor’s pastor, the Rev. Elwyn D. Josephson.

The small church, which is almost as tall as the diameter of its sanctuary, is constructed as a circle. The foyer inside the north doors of the church is part fo the circle, and at each end of the foyer are entrances to the sanctuary.

The sanctuary is designed in the round, with wood pews nearly surrounding the free-standing altar, one of the focal points in the sanctuary and, said Pastor Josephson, one of the items traditionally emphasized in the Lutheran Church.

He said Mt. Tabor, built 15 years ago, is not particularly unusual in architectural design. He pointed out there has been a departure from the traditional rectangular design within the Lutheran Church during the past 20 years.

During this period, he said, more and more churches being built varied from the traditional church designs.

‘The purpose of these variations, such as round or even some triangular structures, has been to focus more attention on the altar,’ Pastor Josephson said. ‘And many of these altars are free-standing, centrally located ones.’

Building a round church is not unprecedented, either, he said. Some Lutheran churches in Denmark were built in the round and Roman basilicas in the 2nd and 3rd centuries were in the round.

‘The focus in Lutheran churches is always twofold,’ the clergyman said. ‘The first emphasis is on the sacraments, the baptismal font and the altar, where Holy Communion is celebrated. The second focus is on the pulpit, because that is where the Word is preached.’

Mt. Tabor’s tall dome, surrounded mostly by glass windows, was also built for a purpose, Pastor Josephson said.

‘Height tends to elevate the worshipers’ thoughts and hearts to God. It tends to add majesty and instill the feeling of majesty and awe in the worshipers,’ he said.

There are also certain advantages to the round church itself, the pastor said.

‘By being surrounded, a great sense of warmth, intimacy and fellowship in worship is provided,’ explained Pastor Josephson.

Mt. Tabor hosts has about 150 members, the pastor said. Eight or nine years ago, it had more than 400 members, but he said the church has suffered from the same problems that plague many downtown churches.

‘Families will transfer out of the area and when new people move in, they move to the suburbs rather than to the city because the houses are in the suburbs,’ Pastor Josephson said.”

Large multi-purpose space in basement with walk-out to sunken exterior patio. Notice the angled structural columns carrying through to the sanctuary above and supporting the circular roof. Exposing the wood structure in this manner provides an ever-present connection to the sanctuary above.

Sunken patio off of 2nd south with link to basement doors.

Additional entry and classroom wing expansion from 1996.

Upstairs in circular corridor surrounding the double-height sanctuary. Linear window slots and exposed angled wood columns provide connection to the sanctuary. Corridor provides access to classroom spaces.

Circular sanctuary seating with structural wood column supporting classrooms and glass tower above.

Focus group to analyze plans for stadium development

THE DAILY UTAH CHRONICLE – Ryan Beck wants a say in the development that will be built in his front yard.

Beck, a junior in business, lives across the street from the west parking lot of Rice-Eccles Stadium, the location for the proposed mixed-use development, the Universe Project.

Read Story

S.L. County OKs cultural blueprint

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE – If Salt Lake County is able to follow its new master plan, arts lovers could see cultural hubs in the suburbs, upgrades to beloved amphitheaters from Murray to Draper, the reincarnation of a defunct sugar factory in West Jordan and a film center in the capital’s downtown. Dueling visions of a 2,500-plus-seat playhouse in Salt Lake City or Sandy might even have a shot at county funds. But those proposals were given less weight in the plan, which concluded the demand for Broadway entertainment in Utah is being met.

Read Story

(The Salt Lake Tribune)

(The Salt Lake Tribune)