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ARCHITECT FOCUS


I love to make things – think up an idea, and then make it. That’s very rewarding. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, sometimes it does. It’s a joy to try.


How did you get involved with the Natural History Museum of Utah? I had designed the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, so when the directors of the Natural History Museum of Utah started thinking about creating a new building, they sent us an invitation to interview. I went through several interviews, and they selected us.


What were the aims of the new building? The Natural History Museum of Utah was previously housed on the University of Utah’s campus in an old library building, which was not at all suitable. The stacks that had contained books were storage for the Museum’s collections, it wasn’t air-conditioned, and there wasn’t enough space to exhibit or tell stories or teach. So first and foremost, they wanted the right facility to house their collection,


which is substantial. Then after that, they wanted the new museum to tell the story of the region and of its people.


What was your brief? I had complete freedom. Early on in the project, the museum’s director, Sarah George, borrowed two jeeps from the Governor of Utah’s office and we travelled around the state for a week. We explored the natural landscape, talked to many people and got a feel for Utah’s character – this was important so that we could make the building represent that. After this trip, it became clear that Utah is all about the land and how people have engaged it for thousands of years – people have been trying to deal with what is a very harsh landscape for a long time. The building had to be responsive to that; it had to feel as though it belonged to the land, but it also had to serve the people and tell the story of Utah’s natural history


THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM OF UTAH


The Natural History Museum of Utah’s new US$102m home opened in Salt Lake City in November 2011. The Museum, which was established in 1963, is associated with the University of Utah, and was previously housed in the university’s campus building. The Museum is an active research institu-


tion, with a collection of more than 1.2 mil- lion specimens and objects. It features more


than 41,300 sq ft of gallery and education space, with the collections housed in new exhibitions designed by Ralph Appelbaum As- sociates. Nine dedicated exhibition galleries explore the Sky, Native Voices, Life, Land, First Peoples, Lake (Great Salt Lake), Past Worlds, Our Backyard and Utah’s Futures. The new building was inspired by the region’s natural landscape of rock, soil,


minerals and vegetation. By incorporating the use of recycled materials, local resources, photovoltaic energy, radiant cooling and the implementation of an extensive storm water catchment and management system, the Natural History Museum of Utah is seeking LEED Gold certification, which would make it one of only 18 buildings in Salt Lake City with that distinction.


in a way people could understand whether they were six or 60 years old – if they were a native American or an immigrant.


Can you describe the building? It sits on the edge of culture and the edge of nature. It’s in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountain Range, and is also on the edge of Salt Lake City. Our goal was to create a building that would blend with nature and appear to be like a rocky outcrop. We used board- formed concrete at the base of the building, which is striated to appear as if it’s a land form – one that has built up over time. We covered the exterior with copper which was donated by Kennecott Utah/Rio Tinto, whose mines are right across the valley. On the roof we have planted areas, as if silt has fallen on the rock and plants have grown there. We think the planting and the building blend quite nicely with the landscape.


70 LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014


www.leisurehandbook.com


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