Spectacular natural history museum opens in Utah

Natural history museum

A copper-skinned museum, dedicated to natural history, has opened on a spectacular seven-hectare site overlooking the Salt Lake Valley in Utah, USA.

Designed by Todd Schliemann of New-York based Ennead Architects, the building blends into the foothills of the Wasatch Mountain Range.

“I have tried with my architecture to interpret the extraordinary landscape of Utah and how people engage it – both in the past and in the present,” said Schliemann.

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Conceived as an abstract extension and transformation of the landscape, the museum rests on a series of terraces that step up the hill with minimal disruption to the site.

The striking skin consists of 3,900m2 of copper panels with accent panels of copper-zinc alloy.

The museum contains a 18m-high central public space – dubbed the canyon – which divides the building into a north wing with laboratories, research facilities and administration, and a south wing with public exhibits.

With respect to the natural world, the museum is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification through the use of recycled materials, local resources, photovoltaic energy, radiant cooling and the implementation of an extensive storm water catchment and management system.

The Ennead design team, led by Schliemann and Don Weinreich, was supported by David Brems and John Branson of GSBS of Salt Lake City.

 

Spectacular natural history museum opens in Utah

A copper-skinned museum, dedicated to natural history, has opened on a spectacular seven-hectare site overlooking the Salt Lake Valley in Utah, USA. 

Designed by Todd Schliemann of New-York based Ennead Architects, the building blends into the foothills of the Wasatch Mountain Range.

“I have tried with my architecture to interpret the extraordinary landscape of Utah and how people engage it – both in the past and in the present,” said Schliemann.

Conceived as an abstract extension and transformation of the landscape, the museum rests on a series of terraces that step up the hill with minimal disruption to the site.

The striking skin consists of 3,900m2 of copper panels with accent panels of copper-zinc alloy.

The museum contains a 18m-high central public space – dubbed the canyon – which divides the building into a north wing with laboratories, research facilities and administration, and a south wing with public exhibits.

With respect to the natural world, the museum is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification through the use of recycled materials, local resources, photovoltaic energy, radiant cooling and the implementation of an extensive storm water catchment and management system.

The Ennead design team was supported by David Brems and John Branson of GSBS of Salt Lake City.

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located on the campus of the University of Utah, just a few miles east of downtown Salt Lake City, the museum is positioned literally and figuratively at the threshold of nature and culture. Together with the interpretive exhibit program and landscape design, the architecture is intended to create an inspirational visitor experience and sponsor curiosity and inquiry.

Mr. Schliemann has designed a building that embodies the Museum’s mission to illuminate the natural world and the place of humans within it.

 

 

 

 

“The natural scientists’ interpretive art makes natural history real to us. It breaks down the complex natural world into many parts and then reassembles it so we have the means to understand. In a similar way,” says Schliemann, “Before design began, I took a journey around the state of Utah. I call it my epiphany moment – one that unfolded over the course of a week. I saw an extraordinarily unique landscape – one that was timelessly natural, but also very architectural. At that time it became clear that the architecture should be of the landscape – belong to the landscape. I also saw how people had been engaging that land for millennia. Therein lies the architectural inspiration behind the design – one that interprets the profound dialogue between culture and nature in Utah,” says Schliemann.

Inside, the heart of the Museum is a voluminous, sixty-foot-high central public space – the Canyon – which divides the building programmatically into an empirical (north) wing and an interpretive (south) wing and provides access to both. Spaces in the north wing support formal scientific exploration and an objective understanding of our world: these include research laboratories, conservation labs, collection storage and administration. The south wing houses exhibits, whose narratives interpret the Museum’s extraordinary collections and guide the public through an exploration of the delicate balance of life on earth and its natural history. In the Canyon, bridges and vertical circulation organize the visitor sequence; views south across the basin expand the museumgoer experience; shafts of sunlight penetrate the apex, suffusing the space with natural light; and a grand vertical scale uplifts and inspires.

Intended to play a seminal role in enhancing the public’s understanding of Earth’s resources and systems as well as be a model for responsible and environmentally sensitive development, the Museum is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification. Says Weinreich, “the artful integration of ‘green’ initiatives: incorporating the use of recycled materials, local resources, photovoltaic energy, radiant cooling and the implementation of an extensive storm water catchment and management system, underscores the Museum’s respect for the natural world and human engagement of the past, present and future of this region and the world.”

ABOUT ENNEAD ARCHITECTS Known for powerful building designs for cultural, educational, scientific, and governmental institutions, Ennead Architects is an internationally-acclaimed 167-person New York City studio. Ennead engages in work across the spectrum of architectural endeavor, including new building design, planning and adaptive re-use. Projects have been recognized for their significant contributions to both the cultural life of their communities and the enhancement of their physical contexts. Among the studio’s award-winning projects are: Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History, William J. Clinton Presidential Center, Carnegie Hall, Newseum, The Standard New York, Yale University Art Gallery Renovation and Expansion, Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and the Brooklyn Museum Renovation and Expansion.

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