How do you go about combining three very different functions in the same building on a long, narrow lot? An answer to this question – and one that could serve as a model – is the Mya project in Salt Lake City. Designed by EskewDumezRipple, the complex brings together homes, coworking spaces, and a shopping center. And, with its ever-changing façades, the building is also a work of art to be admired – almost a painting that reproduces the building’s context. The project is a response to local housing needs as well as a contribution to improving the quality of life in the city center. It therefore follows that the way common and shared spaces have been organized (both inside and out) is key to interpreting the overall design. It was in response to these needs that the actual shape of the building was defined, which explicitly communicates its functions through an exacting organization of its volumes and pedestrian flows.
One of the challenges encountered during the planning process of this large project was the building’s massing on its irregular, long, and narrow site. The design team opted to create separate entrances for the retail and residential sections, subtly changing the architectural language based on function. During the design phase, close attention was therefore given to the distribution of the pedestrian areas, deliberately placing them in strategic positions to create a neighborhood in miniature.
The architecture should be seen as almost self-explanatory, with the different uses along the length of the building marked by as many pedestrian thoroughfares and articulations as the architecture itself. It’s a story told in parts.
On the ground floor, a large glazed section set back from the façade provides access to the retail spaces, an area that’s surmounted by more glazing that frames the main coworking areas, making the activities carried on inside visible from outside. Along the length of the building, serrations in the façades mark the transition to the building’s residential function. This is also accentuated by changes in the windows, the regular rhythm of the large glazed areas occupied by shops and workplaces becoming more sparse, with smaller openings, more suitable for the residential function.
The residential section has 126 units, whose interiors are marked by efficient design, built-in furniture, and flexible layouts, designed by partner architect Farouki Farouki. The team worked to get the best out of a difficult lot, developing creative furniture and efficient layouts to reduce wasted space and optimize rentable square footage. The approach has added to the possibilities for sustainable growth of the local community by offering affordable housing in a highly sought-after downtown area.
The residential model was made possible by the combination of unique funding sources incorporated into Mya’s overall financial structure. The three components of the program – residential, retail, coworking – interact to create a balanced ecosystem in which different financial models give life to a project that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
The Shop is a coworking space that includes a roof deck, several meeting rooms, and flexible events spaces, as well as services aimed at lending a hand to local businesspeople and start-ups. In creating these spaces, the interior design team at EskewDumezRipple drew its inspiration from Salt Lake City’s identity as a city of industry and railroads, which played an important role in its growth in the 19th century. Natural timbers, patinated leathers, black steel, and brass details have been harmoniously combined to create a rustic yet sophisticated aesthetic. Designed to encourage collaboration and networking, The Shop offers support for entrepreneurship, engagement, and inclusiveness.
EskewDumezRipple’s design doesn’t end with the construction of the building. From the outset, the goal was to use Mya to create a community center in the heart of Salt Lake City for businesspeople, stakeholders, and residents. From planning to financial models, Mya has been designed to achieve this at every stage. Besides establishing a synergy between accessibility and design, the architects also focused on community involvement. The building can therefore be seen as a catalyst and a tool that has effectively become a part of the life of its users and residents.
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Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Area: 12.000 m2 (126,138 sf)
Collaborators: Farouki Faroukipve Inc. Fortis Structural Llcawa Engineeringduane Border Designsquare Feet Design
Interior Design (The Shop): EskewDumezRipple
Interior Design (Residential): FaroukiFarouki
Landscape Designer: DuaneBorderDesign
Structural Engineer: FortisStructuralLLC
MEP Engineer: PVEInc
Photography by Kelly Marshall and Tim Hursley courtesy of EskewDumezRipple