Oct 26th, 2012

Who Designed That Building?

Architecture may be a very public art, but the architects behind even our most important buildings usually remain a mystery.

The Utah Center for Architecture will change that with the launch of the Utah Architects Project, a searchable database that links architects with their significant buildings throughout the state. It captures 102 years of creative work, from 1847 to 1949, when the University of Utah established a professional degree program in architecture.

Anyone with a computer will be able to search by architect name, city, building type, building name or time period. You may know that Richard A. Kletting designed the Utah State Capitol Building. Through the Utah Architects Project you’ll also learn that he was born in Germany in 1858, whom he worked with, and the other buildings he designed such as the 1909 Saltair Pavilion and the LDS Business College on South Temple. The database includes photos of the architects and the buildings, if available.

All the buildings catalogued are in Utah, but the architects may or may not have been residents of the state. For example, if you look up the Joseph Smith Memorial Building (former Hotel Utah), you’ll learn that it was designed by the Los Angeles firm of Parkinson & Bergstrom, which also designed the┬áKearns Building on Main Street in Salt Lake City.

While most of the buildings included are public, secular structures, the collection includes significant Mormon church buildings, religious structures of other faiths, and a few of the most important private homes.

Architect Burtch W. Beall, Jr., FAIA gathered the material for this database over two decades. He donated it to AIA Utah’s public education foundation in 2008, which he then helped to restructure as the Utah Center for Architecture.

To bring this invaluable archive into the 21st century, UCFA board members Dr. Martha Bradley and architect Stephen Smith, FAIA, are organizing the research process to document architects of the recent past. They are grappling with changes in professional practice that make architectural design more of a team accomplishment. As soon as funding allows, the archive will be expanded to include oral interviews and videos to bring designers and the design process to life.

With the release of this resource, Utah’s architects will finally be recognized for their contributions to Utah’s cultural heritage and quality of life.