UNITEDLAB Associates - Lofted Ambitions: revitalizing Salt Lake City's founding utopian ideals
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Lofted Ambitions: revitalizing Salt Lake City's founding utopian ideals

UNITEDLAB Associates

Urban Planning  /  Future
UNITEDLAB Associates

The client wanted us to re-envision circulation spaces and passages between downtown Salt Lake City's blocks 69 and 70. They sought an iconic new development to enhance the city's public image. Our goal was to activate spaces between arts, entertainment, and business programming, amplifying cultural amenities and promoting design-led growth. Salt Lake City has a stunning natural setting, cultural amenities, a vibrant retail core, and a thriving business community. However, pedestrian connections between these elements are lacking. We aimed to catalyze connection and promote the city's development through design, fostering a networked condition within downtown blocks 69 and 70.

Influenced by nearby cultural projects and popular attractions, our design draws visitors to our site. Resurrecting the city's utopian ideals, we revive urban topography using interstitial spaces. Guided by nature, we promote positive human-scale development and foster a strong sense of community. Overcoming obstacles of the existing urban layout with its large streets and blocks, our proposal serves as a pilot study to revitalize downtown Salt Lake City, block by block, enhancing the human experience while honoring nature. Temple Square, located two blocks north, annually attracts 3-5 million visitors, and City Creek Center, a mixed-use retail development, is situated directly north.

Salt Lake City prioritizes environmental impact, emphasizing air quality, water resources, and sustainability. Blocks 69 & 70 preserve historic buildings while preparing for a new urban approach. Endemic flora, fauna, and landscapes blend with built spaces, providing recreational areas. Functional needs like parking and city amenities are placed beneath the natural landscape. A public plinth connects to existing structures, offering sustainable farming, entertainment, and gathering spaces. The floating utopia showcases designated "neighborhoods" with orchards, gardens, plazas, and lakes, creating a captivating experience in the city's sky.

2021 AIANYS Design Awards, Citation
2022 World Architecture Festival, Finalist

This proposal aims to establish a multi-use complex in downtown Salt Lake City, revitalizing its founding utopian ideals. By utilizing interstitial spaces, the project seeks to revive a lost urban topography and foster positive human-scale development guided by natural phenomena. However, the presence of large streets and blocks presents challenges to achieving this vision, hindering pedestrian activity and creating a fragmented city experience. As a pilot study, the proposal aims to incrementally rejuvenate downtown Salt Lake City, block by block, while preserving nature and enhancing the overall human experience.

The core of the proposal focuses on restoring the region's endemic landscape, with interstitial spaces mirroring Utah's rolling topography. Below this layer, functional street-level programming seamlessly integrates structures, parking, and city amenities. Above, a floating public plinth connects to the ground through well-designed vertical circulation, supported by towers that replace displaced buildings. This creates a hybrid environment blending an organic landscape with a vibrant urban setting. Framed within narrow vignettes resembling canyons, the project offers a distinct atmosphere, reintroducing human agency and utilizing interstitial urban cracks as catalysts for growth while building upon Salt Lake City's utopian foundation.

Blending natural landscapes with urban elements, the project creates a vibrant city center. Vertical divisions seamlessly integrate into a unified urban space. Navigating the area feels like exploring canyons, guided by prominent cores to the floating plinth. Ascending reveals a human-centered environment connected to nature. The plinth provides adaptable public spaces, while accessible amenities on the ground level can be reached through meadows or forests, enhancing the overall experience.


 Salt Lake City
 Utah, USA
 AIA Utah
 Mixed Use Complex
 47361205 mq
 UNITEDLAB Associates
 Sang Dae Lee, Marshall Ford, Ari Nadrich
 Beziercg, UNITEDLAB Associates


UNITEDLAB Associates, a multi-disciplinary studio founded by Sang Dae Lee in 2015 has designed for a range of typologies, from a pavilion to a townhouse, a regeneration park, and an urban visionary plan.
The firm is a collaborative design studio that has designed for a range of typologies, from a 70-square-metre pavilion to a 14,800-square-metre townhouse to a 607-acre regeneration park and an 8,155-acre urban visionary plan.
Its multi-disciplined approach reflects our belief that diverse perspectives enable a broader view that guides the design process and enriches creative insight.
The studio's work endeavors to confront a future with limited resources and seeks ways to implement social, environmental, and economical sustainability through beautiful, well-crafted design.



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