2014 Interior Design - Best of Education

"Who couldn't use more culture - or learning - in their lives?" asks Editor-in-Chief Cindy Allen in the 2014 Interior Design Magazine's Best of Education & Culture publication.  "Some of the most innovative and creative design work today is being done in institutions of learning, places of worship, summer camps and science labs - fostering community and enriching the lives of its occupants."

MHTN is proud to be a part of 2 of the top 9 interior designs for higher education in 2014.

Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building, University of Utah

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Tasked with translating—and differentiating—the contributions of three major donors within a single structure, MHTN hit on a canny solution: a trio of pavilions. Each has its own presence, but the three are unified by a shimmering aluminum-sheathed box that seems to hover over the supporting brick buildings.

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The first pavilion, housing mainly classrooms, is defined by a custom bamboo wall nicknamed the Canyon, after the state’s distinctive steep slot ravines. The vast honey-color paneled wall, tipped at a slight angle, runs both vertically—from the basement to the eighth level—and horizontally, the length of the building. For every lecture room extending off this wall, there are two smaller, facing rooms—a simple but handy configuration producing abundant flexible meeting space close to classes.

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The dramatic landscape of southern Utah provided imaginative fodder for the contemporary design. Throughout, bridges, balconies, and mezzanine levels allude to canyon nooks and crannies.

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Glass railings bordering the mezzanines dispense with visual barriers, and full-height windows capitalize on views of the Wasatch Mountains and Salt Lake Valley. Now the business school’s physical space meshes with its progressive program—all the better to inspire the decision makers of tomorrow.

Wildcat Village, Weber State University

Hired to design a trio of student-accommodation buildings for Weber State University, an open-enrollment institution, MHTN questioned whether the firm should conjure a warm, homey feel or a modern, energetic one. So the designers hit the books and the streets, teaming with the school’s selection committee to review a variety of market trends and to conduct student interviews on the subject. The verdict? Students preferred the latter.

In the buildings—dubbed One, Two, and Three—suites and dormitories incorporating both single- and double occupancy sleeping quarters are grouped into pods,  which are separated by group study areas and common rooms. The result is several neighborhoods at every level, each featuring a designated color that stacks vertically through the building.

Throughout, MHTN achieved a balance between social and solo space. All floors have their own “living room” dedicated to a specific activity—from TV watching and foosball to simulated golf—inspiring students to move between levels, meet peers, and forge new connections. Furniture and finishes are durable and eco-conscious: Steelcase seating, Designtex and Maharam textiles, lowVOCpaint and adhesives, and high-recycled-content carpet tile from Mohawk. All were specified in a vibrant palette of turquoise, amethyst, peach, and yellow, guaranteed to invigorate even the most couch-prone undergrads.

These articles were originally published in Interior Design - Best of Education & Culture

Photo Credits: Trevor Muhler