Oct 11th, 2013

Utah Architects Project Launched

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

On October 17, the Utah Center for Architecture launched Phase 1 of the Utah Architects Project. This searchable database links architects with their significant buildings throughout the state, capturing 102 years of creative work, from 1847 to 1949. The next phase will expand this resource into the 21st century.

To celebrate this roll-out, UCFA hosted a party the evening of the 17th at the Utah Heritage Foundation’s Ladies Literary Club in Salt Lake City in conjunction with Salt Lake Design Week.

A new cultural resource for all Utah’s citizens

Anyone with a computer may search by architect name, city, building type, building name or time period. The database includes photos of the buildings and the architects, when available. 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. Important buildings designed by non-resident architects are included as well.

The collection won’t end with 1949. The roll-out on the 17th launched the next phase to bring the database into the 21st century. UCFA envisions this collection will reflect the evolution of design in Utah from individual practitioners to multi-disciplinary teams, incorporate information about design trends, and allow for greater public participation.

“We want to add digital interviews, videos of places, links to online mapping resources, and opportunities for people to contribute to and comment on the material,” says Elizabeth Mitchell, UCFA president. “To get there, we’ll need support from those who believe in this idea.”

UCFA is seeking contributions to fund a Fellowship with the American West Center at the University for a graduate student to build the next 50 years of data and augment what is already in place with more photos and architectural descriptions. This graduate fellow’s expertise coupled with the oversight of academic historians and architects will assure that the Utah Architects Project remains a credible, vital resource.

How it began

Although a project of the Utah Center for Architecture, it was architect Burtch W. Beall, Jr., FAIA, a much-honored member of the profession, who carried out the research over five years and donated it to UCFA. Beall’s gift of the Utah Architects Project to the Utah Foundation for Architecture in 2008 was the catalyst to re-think and then to re-brand the Foundation (the charitable/educational non-profit of AIA Utah that had become inactive) into the Utah Center for Architecture. New board members saw the potential for an online, searchable database that could be continuously augmented and improved.

“The concept deepened from collecting the work of architects to showing the cultural value and impact of design,” said Bob Herman, AIA, UCFA president at the time.

Many people have contributed countless hours to translate what was to become a book into a digital resource. No one has put more work into this than Burtch Beall himself.  Architect Warren Lloyd, AIA, Rebecca Romney of Lloyd Architects, and Elizabeth Mitchell have devoted significant time to fixing glitches. Architectural historian Peter Goss submitted comments that have been incorporated. Randy Dixon from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reviewed LDS Church religious structures. Super Top Secret, an advertising and web development company, while compensated for much of its work also contributed significant staff time and expertise to creating the UAP web design and platform.

Check out the Utah Architects Project and imagine what it can become. Help us realize this dream to introduce the people behind Utah’s buildings to all of Utah’s citizens by donating to the Utah Architects Project.