The Marcia and John Price Museum Building at the University of Utah.
During the competition stage for the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Machado Silvetti’s approach to the new museum required acknowledging and exploiting its privileged location at the terminus of the campus mall and its unique condition as a freestanding artifact seen against the Wasatch Mountain Range.
Given the museum’s programmatic intentions, they decided early on to make the proposed Grand Gallery the centerpiece of the project, its most powerful and representative space.
The project evolved into a continuous succession of stepping prismatic volumes that wrap around as they ascend and culminate in the iconic central space. This organization creates a spiral-like crescendo of discrete volumes, each one associated with specific and distinct programmatic elements.
The lowest corresponds to the auditorium, the next to the entrance and public services, followed by art education, permanent galleries, etc. To reinforce this strategy, each of the volumes is distinguished from the others by a subtle combination of two different colors of brick.
This results in a gradation of five distinct tones for the five volumes — from darkest (the auditorium) to lightest (the Grand Gallery). Large protruding window volumes inset at the outer corners intensify the thrust of these volumes’ centripetal movement.
From all sides, the museum appears as a commanding and abstract composition of articulated volumes, colors, and light. Inside, the visitor is also drawn into this dynamic interplay by the tension developed between the straightforward and well-scaled circulation system of the galleries, and the Grand Gallery’s powerful diagonal force created by the relationship between the entry point and the over-scaled corner window.
The visitor is thus constantly challenged by two realities: first, that of the exhibition spaces which are entirely subordinated to the collection’s display; and second, that of the Grand Gallery’s distortions of all normal parameters of light, scale, and function.
Concluding with the words of Frank Sanguinetti, founding Director of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah:
"The Machado and Silvetti Associates have given us a building conceived with strong conceptual support and subtle and sophisticated relationships of internal space, following closely the program…. The way in which the building respects both the general nature of the permanent collection and the need for spaces which articulate the broader civic functions of the Museum, is exemplary."
Project Size 84,000 SF
Completed in 2000
All Photographs and text provided by Machado and Silvetti Architects.