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April 2018

Transparent Design Glazing a critical component of SL County D.A.’s office.

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Designing for Transparency 32


A vibrant, multi-colored glazing/curtain wall system highlights Salt Lake County’s beautiful new District Attorney’s Office and illustrates the building’s transparent nature. By Brad Fullmer | Photos by Dana Sohm


Salt Lake Co. District Attorney’s Office Large, expansive glass highlights the new SL County DA’s office, where openness and large amounts of daylight are key design aspects.


he recent completion of the longawaited Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office at the south end of downtown Salt Lake firmly illustrates the owner’s desire for transparency with a stunning, multi-colored glass and curtain wall system and judicious use of glass throughout the interior. Sim Gill, the County’s elected DA since 2010, said he is ecstatic with the final product – a project he poured an immense amount of time and energy into with the express purpose of ensuring the building stayed on budget and met the current and future needs of a 300-person staff, the largest criminal prosecutorial agency in the State of Utah. The $64 million project budget includes the five-story, 115,000 SF building in Salt Lake, along with a second D.A.’s office (two levels, 28,000 SF) in West Jordan that was completed last June. Construction costs were estimated at $42 million for both buildings ($33 million for the Salt Lake office), with the remaining $22 million going for design fees, FFE (furniture, fixtures, electronics) and other ‘soft costs’ associated with new projects. “This is a huge project for us – it was 30 years in the making,” said Gill, who hearkened back to 1986 when then-DA David Yocum first suggested it. “It’s a design with glass store fronts that capture the value of transparency…the product we put out is the work we do and the glass fronts capture the activity of individuals. It’s an open, airy, transparent atmosphere and you can see all of us in a beehive of activity. (Design) captures that experience… by its functional space which is integrated to complement the idea that we are codependent on each other.” >>



A prominent indoor atrium allows natural light to penetrate deep into the interior spaces of each of the five levels, and light from the southern façade is able to reach the northern side of the building. The exterior glazing has a unique, staggered pattern highlighted by a wildly imaginative art glass feature created by local artist Gordon Huether. Robert Pinon, Principal-in-Charge for MHTN Architects, said daylight “penetrates to the core of the building and we also integrated a light well that provides daylight four floors down, so those internal spaces could enjoy natural daylight. It enhances the quality of the space and makes it easy for (occupants) to have a comfortable work environment.” Regarding the exterior, Pinon said “the glass became a canvas for the art piece – it’s an abstract interpretation of the justice system…the words represent in different ways what the truth is all about.” “We used a different pattern of glazing with white, green and blue,” he added. “It has to do with the rhythm and process of the justice system…it’s a meandering process to come to the truth and an understanding of what it means to be fair. The glass plays off that. It’s not always the

same path, but it has a way of finding truth.” In addition to the high-performance glazing, a beautiful limestone and aluminum curtain wall system is costeffective and a responsible use of public funds, Pinon said, something that was also paramount to Gill and his staff. David Hart, Executive VP of Salt Lakebased MOCA Systems, said as the owner’s project manager his firm was impressed with the collaborative efforts of the owner, design team and general contractor in getting this project to stay on budget. His team identified two primary objectives: 1) Be responsible with taxpayer funds (stay on budget); 2) Make sure the building was functional, yet aesthetically pleasing enough to attract and retain top talent. “The architects had to be really careful not to design for more square footage than we could afford,” said Hart. “It was successful because it was a really collaborative process between Sim and the architect, and Jacobsen was a great partner in that every time we met, they had a budget update so we could see if and where we were veering off budget. Jacobsen identified ways to move money to ensure we hit our budget.” The building is also structurally sound. According to Mark Harris, Principal

at Salt Lake-based Reaveley Engineers + Associates, the structure is a five-story steel framed building, with a moment frame system that uses proprietary SidePlate moment frame connections. The steel moment frames are on the perimeter, with interior columns configured in a long/short/ long spacing to maximize the perimeter window office layouts and minimize the number of columns within the space. The building is constructed without a basement, and is supported on footings & GeoPier soils improvement. A five-story, 290-stall parking garage to the north is constructed of cast-in-place, posttensioned reinforced concrete, in a flat plate configuration. Parking garage floors are sloped and double as ramps for access to all levels with a pedestrian bridge connecting the two structures. “It’s an important statement about the investment in our future,” Gill said, noting that Salt Lake County’s population – currently at an estimated 1.12 million – is expected to double in the next quarter century, meaning the DA’s office will need to expand over that time with an increased staff. “Over the next 25 years we’re looking at one million more people coming into >> April 18 | UTAH CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN | 35