The new Natural History Museum in Utah designed by Ennead Architects

The copper skin of the building mimics the geological layers

by Malcolm Clark
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The new Natural History Museum of Utah designed by Todd Schliemann of Ennead Architects occupies a prominent place on the Campus of the University of Utah a few miles from Salt Lake City.

The building is conceived as an extension of the natural landscape to guide the visitor through a mystic experience where nature and culture merge in the articulated exhibition areas.

The work is intended as a sustainable and non invasive design model for the territory in which it is located and has thus been designed to achieve LEED gold certification. The Museum seems to be perched on a series of terraces which step up the hill, its jagged profile referencing the mountains beyond.

The central public space, called the Canyon, separates the areas of the North wing – which include the science laboratories, storage rooms and administrative offices – from those of the South wing which house exhibits alone.

While on the one hand the material chosen for the base of the building, consisting of concrete sheets, marks the passage from the natural to the man-made environment, on the other the copper panels used for cladding blend in successfully with the natural context, referencing the geological and mineralogical history of the site. Copper zinc panels also enhance the variegation in the natural colour of the copper.

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    Natural History Museum of Utah 27

    Natural History Museum of Utah

    Salt Lake City / United States / 2011