Friday, July 31, 2009

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

Thursday, July 9, 2009

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)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

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.

dreier home

This fantastic home off Mueller Park Road in Bountiful was designed by the late Eduard Dreier over 30 years ago, sometime in the 1970's. The home addresses the site and the region it is built in. The home uses thermal massing by placing the large fireplace in the center of building. From this, the home is able to remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter. There is generous glazing on the south facade with large overhangs to block the high summer sunlight but allow in the low winter light. The original owner who commissioned the design still lives there. Unfortunately, they never agreed to have the home published. I wasn't able to get inside, but the owner was kind enough to let me walk around the property.

Large overhangs protecting home from south-facing summer light. Photo taken from bridge walkway over a stream leading to the entry.

South facade of home.

As you can see, the home is part of the landscape, does not feel intrusive, and seems to belong to the land - as a natural extension. It fits in to the surrounding context in which it is placed; it is not forced or arrogant. The home is interested in seeing and understanding, not in being seen or understood. Compare this to the McMansions being built up the hill. These homes want to be seen and stand out. They are cookie-cutter houses you can find anywhere in America. The Dreier home is a home designed specifically for the Utah climate by a local architect with minimal impact on the surrounding community. In contrast, McMansions are designed by builders and graze down or force a community where they shouldn't be one; in this case on the top of a hill.

McMansions being built up the hill from home.

Landscaped steps leading from stream up to home.

Front of home.