Photo by Jim Nista

Natural History Museum of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

Market: Cultural




2014 Honor Award for Excellence in Architecture for a New Building, The Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) & AIA Committee on Architecture for Education
2012 Jury’s Choice Excellence in Concrete Award, American Concrete Institute Intermountain Chapter
2012 Excellence Award, Society of American Registered Architects, National Chapter
2012 Copper in Architecture Award, Copper Development Association Inc.
2012 Best of the Best Government/Public Building, Engineering News Record
2012 Award of Honor, Society of American Registered Architects/New York Council
2012 American Architecture Award, The Chicago Athenaeum
Natural History Museum of Utah
Natural History Museum of Utah
Field water testing

Set amongst the foothills of the Wasatch Range, the Rio Tinto Center serves as the new home for the Natural History Museum of Utah. The dramatic building facade is clad with 42,000 sq ft of standing-seam copper installed in horizontal bands suggestive of Utah rock formations. In addition to the copper, the complex facade features multiple cladding systems that come together at different angles and planes. SGH reviewed the building enclosure design and worked with the project team to evaluate alternatives to improve cost and performance.

Scope | Solutions

SGH collaborated on the building enclosure design and helped the project team tackle the challenges associated with the severe local climate in terms of both high summer temperatures and low winter moisture levels. We recognized that low exterior moisture levels during cold weather exacerbate moisture migration from a humidified museum space through the building enclosure and air leakage from the exterior can cause undesirable fluctuations in interior humidity levels.

Enclosure components which cannot function in high humidity environments are subject to problems ranging from interior surface condensation to corrosion of structural components and degradation of building materials. SGH helped develop a high performance building enclosure system for the project with walls, roofs, windows, doors, curtain walls, and skylights designed to effectively control heat, air, and moisture migration from both the interior and exterior environments.

Our work included a design review of the construction documents. We provided recommendations to address the project challenges and also performed construction administration services that included water testing and whole-building infrared scans to verify the integrity of the finished enclosure.

Project Contact(s)