Natural History Museum of Utah
Monday 03 Jun 2013
Conceived as an abstract extension and transformation of the land, the design for the new Natural History Museum of Utah is emblematic of the Museum's mission to illuminate the natural world through scientific inquiry, educational outreach and human engagement of the present, past and future of the region and the world.
Utah's singular landscape is the touchstone for an architecture that expresses the State's cultural and natural contexts: positioned literally and figuratively at the threshold of nature and culture, the building is a trailhead to the region and to science. The building rests on a series of terraces that lays along the contours of the site with minimal disruption to the adjacent natural landscape. At its base, board-formed concrete marks the transition from the earth to the man-made. The copper façade recalls Utah's geological and mineralogical history.
Together with the interpretive exhibit program and landscape design, the architecture creates an inspirational visitor experience and sponsors curiosity and inquiry. The heart of the Museum is ‘The Canyon', a voluminous, sixty-foot-high central public space. Its grand vertical scale uplifts and inspires as shafts of sunlight penetrate the apex. Bridges and vertical circulation with views across the basin organize the visitor sequence.
The Canyon divides the building into two wings. Spaces in the empirical (north) wing support formal scientific exploration to objectively understand our world; the interpretive (south) wing houses exhibits that explore the delicate balance of life on earth and its natural history. A model for environmentally sensitive development and the understanding of Earth's systems, the Museum is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification.