Joseph Smith
Memorial Building

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building, formerly the Hotel Utah, has been a major Salt Lake City landmark since its construction began in 1909. After exhaustive market and economic studies in the mid-1980s, it was determined that the building was no longer economically viable as a hotel and that its function should be changed. For the building to function adequately and safely as an office building with associated meeting and public spaces, the building’s life safety, mechanical, electrical, and circulation systems needed to be replaced and the structural seismic-resistance improved.

The adaptive reuse scheme for this project involved completely gutting hotel floors and transforming eight levels into open-plan offices. The ground-level lobby and Empire Room were completely renovated, while a new 500-seat, 70mm film theater, and retail outlets were added. A meeting facility with a pipe organ was located on the mezzanine level. The entire top floor was rebuilt for restaurants and meeting rooms, thereby continuing the traditional use of this special space.

The design and character of this new ninth floor facility are consistent with the distinctive historic elegance in other public areas of the building, including the level of finishes, use of materials, the plaster moldings, wood detailing, etched glass, and the color palate. It was important that furnishings, accessories, table settings, etc. from other portions of the building be compatible with the new facility. Even with that, this new ninth floor facility needed to be unique and have an attraction all its own.