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Located on the southeastern quadrant of the University of Utah campus, the new Natural History Museum of Utah is under construction. Its material palette recalls Utah’s rich geological and mineralogical history. On the exterior, a variegated pattern of copper panels extends from the volume at angles that reference the surrounding mountainous landscape and the geophysical processes that created it. The building is integrated in the foothill slope of the Wasatch Mountain Range, stepping up the hill and cutting into it to mimic natural forms. Three structural bays are organized along a central axis. This fragmentation reduces the perceived scale of the building and creates a central wedge-shaped public space called the ‘canyon.’ The curtain wall at the mouth of the ‘canyon’ provides stunning westerly views of Salt Lake City.
Exhibits are designed as a system of “trails” rather than a directed sequence, allowing visitors to chose their own paths. In addition to creating a memorable visitor experience, the new building will provide first-rate research facilities for Museum scientists and a venue for undergraduate and graduate training at the University of Utah. Program elements include exhibition space and classrooms, collection storage, research facilities, administrative offices and support space. The new building will forge a distinct identity for the Museum and establish it as a local and regional destination for students, scientists and the general public.