Salt Lake City Modern

SLC Mies, originally uploaded by gregorg.

I almost never associate Utah with great–or even good–architecture, and certainly not with modernism. Even though I’ve been head over heels for this eye-popping, uncompromisingly International Style house on Salt Lake City’s east bench for something like 25 years.

Before I knew who Mies was, I just liked it for its alien qualities. With the exception of a couple of steel beamed ski cabins, it literally looks like no other house in Utah. And then there’s that giant boulder. It always comes back to the boulder.

Whoever built this house in 1959 [IIRC] did it just right; the juxtaposition of the two forms, the balance of their sizes, the tension of their placement, is all nearly perfect.

As McMansionization has swept the state–and the neighborhood, where the low-key, low-ceilinged original homes are regularly scraped and replaced with jacked up stone dream chalets–I take a lot of smug satisfaction from knowing that the coolest house in town is totally off the local radar.

I figure the boulder and the busyness of the street will help preserve it, even if its architectural merits are lost on the SLC real estate community. Or maybe a bunch of those Eichler groupies from California will discover Salt Lake’s under-appreciated modernist heritage. There’s nothing this stunning, but there are quite a few decent 60’s modern houses in the Foothill Village area. [I’ve posted some more pictures on flickr.]