“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)
“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)
Images from (Salt Lake City Library Competition)