Utah is known for having an abundance of breathtaking landscapes, natural formations, ski resorts, and epic National Parks, but it’s not particularly well known for its buildings. However, the state has some incredible architectural gems that are well worth visiting. While some of the buildings have stood for more than a century and are steeped in history, others are relative newcomers that were designed by the world’s top architects. Here are ten of the most interesting buildings in Utah.
1. Adobe Utah Campus
Adobe has become known the world over for its software systems and products, and the mega tech company has a 280,000 square foot campus in Lehi, Utah. The building is four stories tall and its interior design was completed by award winning firm Rapt Studio. San Francisco based WRNS Studio designed the exterior of the building, and that’s what makes it so remarkable. It’s largely comprised of glass and you can get excellent outside views from 93% of the interior. The building is modern with an impressive profile, and its aesthetics and engineering were so highly acclaimed that its designers won Architect Magazine’s 2013 Design Review Award.
2. The Ben Lomond (a.k.a. The Bigelow Hotel)
When this building was first completed in 1927 it was known as The Bigelow Hotel, and some people still call it that today. However, since it was sold in 1933 it has officially been known as The Ben Lomond, an eleven story hotel that sits at 2510 Washington Boulevard in Ogden. The inside of the property is refined and stately, and the exterior flaunts a mix of Italian Renaissance and Late 20th Century Revival styles. The firm responsible for The Ben Lomond’s design was Hodgson & McClenahan, which was led by famed architect Leslie S. Hodgson. Today the hotel is listed on the Utah and National Historical Registers.
3. Abravanel Hall
The first priority when Abravanel Hall was constructed was to create a building with superior acoustics that would enhance symphony performances. Its doors opened in 1979 after a three year construction period, and the project cost $12 million to complete. It’s now the home of the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City, and Abravanel Hall is also one of the most significant architectural landmarks in the entire state. FFKR Architects came up with the building design while Dr. Cyril M. Harris accomplished the task of ensuring the building had excellent acoustics.
4. Natural History Museum of Utah
The University of Utah in Salt Lake City houses a striking building with a modern abstract style: the Natural History Museum of Utah. It first opened in 2011 and holds a total of 153,000 square feet. The profile of the building can be attributed to the firm Ennead Architects, which aimed to come up with a design that reflected the gorgeous foothills surrounding the campus. The Natural History Museum of Utah mirrors the raw natural beauty of the local area, and it stands out even more due to being wrapped with 42,000 feet of copper. Inside the museum is exhibits that focus on the natural history of the Intermountain West and Utah.
5. Salt Lake LDS Temple
This temple took 40 years to complete, and when you first see it you’ll understand why. Describing it as opulent and extravagant is an understatement, and the 253,000 square foot building is comprised of blocks of quartz monzonite. Back when the Gothic style structure was being built in the mid-1800s, each block of stone had to be carried to the site over 20 miles via wagon — that and the size of the project led to a four decade construction period, and it was finally finished in 1893. The designer of the temple was architect Truman O. Angell.
6. Cathedral of the Madeleine
Utah’s Cathedral of the Madeleine was first opened in 1909, and it was designed by architects Bernard O. Mecklenburg and Carl Neuhausen. It’s an ornate marvel with gorgeous stained glass windows, sweeping murals, towering vaulted ceilings, and a Neo-Gothic interior. The building’s exterior has a Neo-Romanesque style and it’s been a prominent landmark in the state since it was completed. To keep it in good shape a two year renovation of the interior was completed in 1993, and the exterior was restored decades earlier in the 1970s.
7. Salt Lake City Public Library
Some libraries are impressive because of their extensive collections, but the Salt Lake City Library stands out due to its incredible design. The architect behind the project was the highly esteemed Mosche Safdie, and the library’s main branch opened in 2003 after a three year construction period and $84 million budget. Not only does it contain scores of books, this library has art galleries, gift shops, event and meeting spaces, a large auditorium, coffee shop, and snack stands.
8. Thomas Kearns Mansion
This beautiful residential building was commissioned in 1902 by Thomas Kearns, a wealthy businessman in the mining industry. After he passed away his widow donated the home to the state in 1937, and since then it has served as the official residence for Utah’s governors. Carl Neuhausen came up with the home’s design, taking inspiration from the mansions of east coast magnates such as the Vanderbilt and Carnegie families. The property cost $350,000 to build, which was a substantial amount for a house constructed in 1902.
9. Utah State Capitol
Utah’s State Capitol is an awe-inspiring example of Classical style architecture. It has elements inspired by the Parthenon in Greece and a wealth of Corinthian details. The building’s symmetrical exterior is comprised of Utah granite, otherwise known as quartz monzonite. It was designed by architect Richard K.A. Kletting and completed in 1916, and in 2004 a major renovation was completed.
10. Salt Lake City and County Building
The typical government building isn’t very notable, but this one is a gorgeous piece of architecture that truly stands out. It was designed by architects Willis T. Proudfoot and George W. Bird, and construction lasted from 1891 to 1894. Its clock tower and many statues are highlights of the design, as is its free revival Richardson Romanesque style.