Monday, November 30, 2009

harlan residence

Composite drawing showing site plan, floor plan, exterior elevations, and building section (GA Houses, March 1994, n. 41, p. 122)

Designed in 1993 for client Willard Harlan, this Salt Lake City residence was designed by architect Taeg Nishimoto, with Leonard Camposano and Wendi Shafran as assistants. The home was subsequently published in the prestigious GA Houses magazine the following year.

In an email response to my query for information on the project, the architect, Taeg Nishimoto stated, "The project was a completely hypothetical one and it was never built. The client, a friend of mine, wanted to have something he could dream of at the time, so the context (site) was also an imagined one. We worked on his description of what the place might be. He passed away since then." Taeg is currently a Professor and Associate Dean at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Drawing of hallway perspective (GA Houses, March 1994, n. 41, p. 123)

“The site is situated at the edge of a gently sloping plain with some trees, which, due to the occasional strong winds of the region, are shaped quite picturesquely. The house was conceived as a protective shelter constructed from a concrete slab which completely opens to the landscape on one side and provides a more intense, independent spatial experience on the other side. It also utilizes the roof as a continuous surface between the two levels of the earth of these two sides to be walked on as well as giving a strong presence to the house in the open landscape. The spatial articulation involves a rather complex geometry which is intended to create the spatial autonomy of the interior of the house against the surrounding natural components such as the sky and the configuration of the ground surface, as well as to enhance the abstract quality of the concrete surface which envelopes it. The geometric arrangement is conceived in order to create the perception of continuity throughout the space-defining surfaces, both visibly and invisibly. The continuously undulating surfaces of the concrete and the other interacting components made of various materials, such as wood paneling and metal sheets, are intended to create the abstract and yet highly textural continuity of the space. It is most evident in the circulation space through the house along the closed side with different sources of natural light where the client's drawings would be displayed." (GA Houses, March 1994, n. 41, p. 121)

Model of house and site (GA Houses, March 1994, n. 41, p. 121)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

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.