Anne Mooney, AIA is Awarded 2016 Professor of the Year, University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning

At Sparano + Mooney Architecture, we like to recognize the hard work our team members invest in advancing architecture and design. With this appreciation in mind, we extend a big congratulations to Anne Mooney, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, who has been recognized as the 2016 Professor of the Year in the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Utah! Anne is a principal and the co-founder of Sparano + Mooney Architecture, and is an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture where she teaches applied research design studios and courses in theory and professional practice.

Anne has taught architecture and design at the University of Utah since 2004 and has paralleled a professional practice with a presence in the academic world since establishing her practice in 1997. In addition to pursuing award-winning, research-based conceptual design projects with Sparano + Mooney Architecture, she has also taught design studios in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, most recently leading a graduate studio focused on the future of small towns in the American West. She also serves on the leadership team of the School of Architecture and is the chair of the curriculum committee.

In addition to the Professor of the Year award, Anne’s design work has been featured in over 25 peer-reviewed publications and in the United States, Canada, England, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and Spain, and her design excellence has been recognized with more than 12 peer-issued, juried design awards. These include: a National American Institute of Architects Design Award for the Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Church; the American Institute of Architects Western Region Young Architect of the Year Award; and the American Institute of Architects Western Region Design Award for the Arcadia Museum.                                         

Sparano + Mooney Architecture is a full-service design firm offering comprehensive architectural and planning services to civic, cultural and private clients throughout the American West. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited team is committed to providing energy efficient and environmentally responsible design solutions.

The University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning is an academic college of the University of Utah, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture, city and metropolitan planning and multi-disciplinary design. The mission of the College is to nurture a culture of discovery, design and innovation in the designed world rooted in an ethic of care, community and commitment.

Topaz Museum Hosts Benefit Concert with Mark Inouye at the San Francisco Conservatory

Sparano + Mooney Architecture is pleased to help support the Topaz Museum and Education Center in its fundraising effort. In this season of summer travel, if you find yourself in the Bay Area we invite you to join virtuoso trumpeter Mark Inouye from the San Francisco Symphony and the Friends of Topaz for an evening of Mark Inouye & Friends in Concert. The event will be held on Sunday, July 10th, 2016 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

For several years, Mark has been on a journey – to discover all he could about his father, Takara Steve Inouye. This path led him to the Topaz Internment Camp outside of Delta, Utah, where his father was incarcerated during World War II with 11,000 others. His father’s only crime? Being Japanese American. Thanks to Mark’s generosity and commitment to raising awareness of this injustice, all proceeds from the benefit concert will be donated to help create new exhibits at the Topaz Museum.

Designed by Sparano + Mooney Architecture, the Topaz Museum and Education Center is a 4,000 SF facility that provides information and interpretation regarding the thousands of Japanese Americans who were imprisoned at the nearby Topaz Camp during WWII. The Museum and Education Center helps prepare and encourage visitors to tour the Topaz Internment Camp site, located approximately 16 miles northwest of the Museum – it is located along Delta’s Main Street (Highway 50/6), providing maximum visibility for those traveling through.

The modern museum includes an exhibit space with interpretive displays, cutting-edge computer technology installations, artifacts and art from the Camp, a historically-accurate re-creation of one of the barracks, images of the Camp, and historic perspectives to engage and educate the public about the internment. In addition, the Museum also offers an education/orientation space, a secure curatorial storage area and an outdoor courtyard that includes a restored Recreation hall structure from the original Camp. Though the Camp was shuttered after WWII, the site became a National Historic Landmark in 2007, and evidence of its existence still remains – gardens, a gridded road network, walkways, concrete foundations, artifacts and other remnants that remind visitors of the injustice once inflicted. One of the primary goals of the project was to provide a secure home for some of these artifacts – the Museum’s collection comprises over 1,000 items – and to preserve the collection for future generations.

Mark Inouye is generously helping to advance the knowledge and understanding of the Topaz Camp and Museum, and we hope you will consider attending this important event. A pre-concert talk with Mark will begin at 6pm, and the show will begin at 7pm. The first set of symphonic music will be followed by an intermission, then a set of jazz. Finally, there will be a VIP Reception for Benefactor ticket holders at 9pm. Musicians Keisuke Nakagoshi, In Sun Jang, Jeffrey Budin, Brad Buethe, Mark Izu, Jeff Mars and Wendy Hanamura will join Mark in this musical storytelling event.

For more information, and to purchase tickets to the concert, please visit and

Caine College of the Arts Engages Students in Design

The Caine School of the Arts at Utah State University was first established in 2005. It became the Caine College of the Arts in 2010, with its own dean, Dr. Craig Jessop, and recognized degree programs for students in the design, theater, and music arts. Today the college is well known not only for its student body but also for the architecture that comprises the college campus. Sparano + Mooney Architecture is thrilled to be part of a campus-wide renovation project that will completely transform the Caine College of the Arts.

As a modern design firm based in California and Utah and specializing in contemporary architecture, we were immediately challenged by the opportunities Caine represents. But, upon meeting with school administration, it was decided we would not go into the project with a developed vision of our own. Rather, we would design the renovation around the needs and desires of faculty and students.

Such an approach to architecture is rare. It is not unusual for a firm like Sparano + Mooney Architecture to work with a small handful of individuals to come up with design plans, but to stretch that to hundreds of students and faculty is an entirely different matter. Yet we are committed to making sure their individual voices are heard. Not everyone will get everything they want, but we are doing our best to design new spaces that will best meet the needs of the majority of those who will actually use them.

Meeting with Students and Faculty

We began the design process last spring by holding a series of meetings to which we invited both faculty and students. The meetings were conducted as workshops, giving attendees an opportunity to express what they were hoping to see realized with the project. For example, there was a lot of concern about a lack of practice space for students. We will address that and many other spatial requirements through the expansion of the Fine Arts Complex.

The first phase of the renovation project is expected to last about 18 months, with completion in mid-2017. We have already seen significant progress on the addition and renovation of the Scene Shop, improvements to the Morgan Theater, and the interior transformation of the Kent Concert Hall. Much of our effort for 2016 will be concentrated on finishing up the Scene Shop and renovating the Tippets Gallery and some exterior courtyard areas. Overall, we believe the project is progressing nicely thanks to plenty of input from the University leadership, the faculty and students.

Looking to Future Generations

During our workshop discussions, we have heard plenty of great ideas about how the Fine Arts Complex could be improved, structurally and aesthetically. We heard lots of ideas about classroom space, creating more access to natural light, renovating performance space to be more inviting to patrons, and so on. But we were most impressed by the realization that so many students and faculty were as concerned about the future of the college as they are the present.

It is understood that a transformation of this nature might happen only once every few decades. The students and faculty at the Caine College of the Arts realize that the renovations done today will affect students for 20, 30, and even 40 years down the road. Those future generations of students should have campus facilities that enhance the learning atmosphere in both form and function. That is what we are striving for in this renovation.

Sparano + Mooney Architecture is a leading modern design firm in Utah and California that has had the privilege of working on some very exciting cultural projects. The project at the Caine College of the Arts has been, and continues to be, one of the most inspiring we have been involved with – thanks to the participation of the college leadership, and its students and faculty.


1.      Utah Statesman –

Sparano + Mooney Architects LOVES Central Ninth

Residential architecture in Salt Lake City is both intriguing and exciting at the same time. The city has a lot of great neighborhoods that, through the course of time and gentrification, have become a great place for us to live and work within. One example is the Central Ninth neighborhood close to the center of the city. We have had opportunities to work in this eclectic urban zone, including a recent project for which we designed a mixed-use housing project that combines the best in urban living with an inviting retail and public space.

We appreciate the opportunity to work on mixed-use projects such as this one because we know how important they are to metropolitan Salt Lake City. As a city with a strong and vibrant population of young professionals, Salt Lake City is one of the best places to live and work in the American West.  Our urban zones that are being developed like the Central Ninth are a big part of that. Having an opportunity to contribute to urban zone developments has been an exciting challenge for Sparano + Mooney Architecture and one that we are happy to participate in as we create design solutions for these districts.

Our Mixed-Use Project

Our most recent contribution to the Central Ninth is for a fantastic site located just across from the TRAX station at 200 West. We designed the architecture and landscape around the concept of vibrant neighborhood living where people get to know one another and spend time socializing over a drink or a meal.  Our design called for a mixed-use property combining quality housing units with a restaurant and retail space, tied together with public art and modern architecture. We designed a building that would be welcoming to both residents and visitors alike.

The building’s exterior is every bit modern architecture without compromise and fits within the overall atmosphere of the Central Ninth neighborhood. Our design proposal was one that fits in nicely with the neighborhood yet definitely attracts the eye as you travel down 200 West, on Trax, bicycle, car or on foot. On the first floor is residential and restaurant space, complete with integrated outdoor seating that creates a welcoming public space that invites social interaction.

Between buildings is a courtyard designed to be utilized by residents. It is an area with plenty of sunshine and ample green space with adjacent access to residential flex space where residents can entertain larger parties with a fully equipped kitchen and indoor and outdoor seating.  We anticipate the open courtyard to be a place where residents meet and establish new friendships.

The Central Ninth Neighborhood

Each of the city's individual neighborhoods has its own style of residential architecture. In Salt Lake City, however, it's increasingly all about community living. From quaint, tree-lined boulevards to busy urban streets, people in the city want to feel connected with one another. That is what the revitalized Central Ninth is all about, too.

The neighborhood has an increasingly dense population of restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, and other places residents love to gather. On any given night you'll see people meeting after work to enjoy one another's company – outdoors when the weather is nice, indoors at other times. On the weekends, the streets of the Central Ninth come alive with activity.

The team at Sparano + Mooney Architecture had to really get to know the Central Ninth neighborhood in order to design a mixed-use project that would fit right in. It was a pleasure doing so. Some of our team lives there and the rest of us had the opportunity to meet some fantastic people, see the neighborhood for ourselves, and really get a feel for the vibe of the area. We believe our design project reflects that.

Residential architecture in Salt Lake City is just one of the many facets that make this city what it is and Sparano + Mooney Architecture is proud to be part of it.

Sustainable Architecture's 5 Foundational Principles

Sustainable design and Salt Lake City go together like coffee and donuts. Salt Lake City is a perfect environment for sustainable architecture because of our unique climate that is part semiarid and part continental, depending on whose scale you want to use. Our geography doesn't hurt either. We have all the right ingredients in Salt Lake City to test and develop sustainable technologies that will drive the architectural design of the future.

At the foundation of sustainable design are five basic principles as outlined by the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Needless to say that sustainable architecture is about more than just saving energy and improving insulation. It is about making the best use of our resources without needless waste or environmental damage.

Without further delay, here are the five foundational principles of sustainable architecture and design:

1. Taking Full Advantage of the Sun

Sustainability is most often associated with energy use. This is no coincidence. Our current energy infrastructure is built on the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. But these energy sources will not last forever. Therefore, sustainable design in Salt Lake City and elsewhere relies heavily on natural sunlight as an energy source.

We use both active and passive strategies to harness solar energy. For example, we may install photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight into electricity. That would be an active strategy. In terms of passive strategies, we may orient a new building to take full advantage of the sun throughout the year.

2. Indoor Air Quality Improvement

As the National Building Museum points out, the average American spends up to 90% of his or her time indoors. Unbeknownst to many, indoor air can be even more polluted than outdoor air. Therefore, the second foundational principle of sustainable design is to improve indoor air quality. We do this through the use of ventilation and filtering technologies designed to remove as many pollutants and toxins as possible.

3. Responsible Land-Use

Sustainability is as much about protecting the land as it is conserving energy and improving air quality. A sound strategy for sustainability looks to work with the land in the architectural design rather than against it. Such a strategy involves a number of things including utilizing less land for construction, leaving more land open for recreational purposes, and minimizing the environmental impact of any construction project.

4. High-Performance Architectural Design

While the optimization of sunlight is at the top of the list of sustainable design in Salt Lake City and elsewhere, it goes hand-in-hand with designing high-performance structures that waste as little as possible. Most homes and commercial buildings compete internally to find the right balance between comfort and conservation. High-performance architectural design improves the “internal envelope”, as the National Building Museum to describes it, to maintain comfort with less waste.

5. Use of Natural Resources

Another foundational principle of sustainable architecture is the wise use of natural resources for building purposes. Our supply of natural resources is finite, so building indiscriminately without regard to how quickly we use such resources is anything but sustainable. The wise use of natural resources includes timber management, use of recycled materials, and the development of new synthetics that can be safely used without harming the environment.

Sparano + Mooney Architects is proud to contribute to sustainable design in Salt Lake City and beyond Utah to projects located throughout the American West, in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming. We believe sustainability is unquestionably essential to maintaining a bright future for our children and grandchildren. We find great satisfaction in knowing that we are creating beautiful buildings in a way that is environmentally responsible yet still structurally and aesthetically sound.


1.      National Building Museum –

Park City Home Seamlessly Blends Old and New

It's a dream come true: owning a beautiful vacation home that has direct access to the Park City Mountain Resort in northwest Utah. The Park City architects at Sparano + Mooney Architecture recently had the opportunity to make that dream a reality for a professional couple and their children. They hired us to design a modern vacation home that fits well in the mountain context, provided a comfortable and inspiring living environment, and met their goals of sustainability and environmental friendly architecture.

The design we came up with exceeded the expectations of everyone involved. From city planners in Park City to neighbors to the owners themselves, everyone our team had the opportunity to work with has contributed to the extraordinary result. Our client now has a beautifully crafted and highly functional vacation home where they can spend time in relaxing and enjoying all that Park City has to offer.

Keeping in Tune with the Past

Property in Park City is somewhat unique, especially in the historic area of Old Town where our client’s purchased. Lots are compact and narrow, which was typical of the mining era, and many of them sit on steep slopes that can boast grades as steep as 40%. That said, the size and layout of the lot were just the beginning of the overall challenge our team faced. We also had to design a structure that was in keeping with the atmosphere of Park City’s Old Town.

Old Town has very strict architectural requirements when it comes to preserving the area's historical atmosphere. We were limited in our design, from everything from total structural height to the exterior materials we would use on the home. But our team of Park City architects worked with the Planning Commission to come up with an innovative design that satisfied everyone.

The resulting home does not duplicate the past in every detail. Rather, it is an ultra-modern structure that references and complements the past in a way that seamlessly blends both the contemporary and traditional. The house sits very naturally in the surrounding environment while still being modern. We believe it is one of the newest, yet most beautiful, contributing structures in Park City.

Meeting the Demands of the Future

A primary goal of our clients was to build their vacation home to be not only aesthetically pleasing and comfortable but also one that was focused on sustainability and limited the environmental impact. These are things that are important to Sparano + Mooney Architecture as well, so this project was perfect for our residential team. We accepted the challenge of designing this house with a focus on sustainability that would meet or exceed the requirements for LEED certification.

We think we achieved what we set out to create: a beautiful Park City home that will be as good for the local environment as it is for the family that owns it. Our clients will enjoy years of comfortable relaxation in the beautiful mountain environment knowing that their home has a minimal environmental impact.

At the end of the day, the Park City vacation home is testament to the fact that we can design residential structures that incorporate the old with the new in a way that seamlessly blends the best of the past with the brightest aspects of the future. Past, present and future do not have to conflict – whether in aesthetic features or structural integrity. All three can be combined for a truly exceptionally finished product.

We wish our clients well in their new vacation home in Park City.  We thoroughly enjoyed working on this property, knowing how much they would enjoy their time spent in such a lovely area.

Matthew Barney Project a Perfect Fit for Sparano + Mooney Architecture

From mid-September 2015 through mid-January 2016, visitors to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) were treated to an extraordinary exhibit from eclectic American artist Matthew Barney.  Architects Sparano + Mooney was thrilled to be part of the exhibit, having designed the theater space that housed the biggest draw among Barney fans: an epic six-hour film entitled River of Fundament. From our perspective, the Barney project was a perfect fit for our team.

We appreciate the work of Matthew Barney for its provocative and envelope-pushing nature. For those who know nothing of this artist, Barney is hard to pin down. His art covers multiple mediums including sculpture, drawing, photography, film, and even performance art. All of these are combined in River of Fundament, which might just be Barney's most ambitious project. Having the opportunity to be part of the exhibit at MOCA was truly an honor for us.

More Than Just a Theater

Our contribution to River of Fundament was the theater space where Barney lovers and critics alike sat to watch a film based on Norman Mailer's critical failure, Ancient Evenings. From a design perspective, we had to come up with a space that was physically comfortable (keeping in mind the people who watched the entire film would be sitting for six hours) while at the same time aesthetically pleasing and in tune with the vibe of the exhibit. This was no easy task.

In addition to the challenge of the theater itself was designing it in concert with the rest of the exhibit space, which contained many of the artworks used to create the film. For example, the exhibit included a rather large reproduction of Norman Mailer's attic workspace flipped upside down on its head. Nearby were several 25-ton bronze sculptures along with display cases containing more than seven dozen artifacts from the film.

If nothing else, the entire collection was less-than-cohesive to the untrained eye new to Matthew Barney and his artwork. We knew this theater space would have to be such that it did not detract from the film experience by continuing the lack of cohesion found outside the space. Therefore, we opted for an architecture of simplicity and understated modernism that would complement Barney's style and keep all eyes focused on the film.

Seeing What Others Don't See

Having the opportunity to work on the Matthew Barney project was also a chance for architects at Sparano + Mooney to push ourselves and our perceptions beyond that which we were used to. In the contemporary art world, what separates the great from the merely adequate is being able to see what others do not see. Contemporary art is meant to challenge the mind to go beyond what is deemed normal, in search of those things that truly define who we are.

Contemporary architecture is similar in so many ways. Finding the right balance between aesthetic beauty and creating buildings that are both structurally sound and friendly to the environment requires vision that not everyone has. Whether it is contemporary architecture in Park City or a gallery theater space at Los Angeles MOCA, going beyond what is expected is just the start of creating something truly great.

The Matthew Barney exhibit has now moved on from Los Angeles. During its four-month museum run here, there was no shortage of fans and critics who had their say. But whether you loved it or hated it, one thing cannot be denied: Matthew Barney once again pushed those who viewed River of Fundament and its artifacts to see things differently. We are proud to have been part of it and look forward to our next collaboration with MOCA.


1.      MOCA –

Don’t Look Back: The 1990s at MOCA

Architecture has led us to collaborate with a wild array of artists, design projects and exhibitions. One of which is aimed at exploring the social complexity and dynamics of America in the 1990s. The exhibition is titled Don’t Look Back: The 1990s at MOCA and opens March 12 and runs until July 11 at the Geffen Contemporary at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. We hope you get a chance to visit and tell us what you think!

Music and Architecture

Our architectural team is fortunate to work with the most inspiring clients in the region. One of these monumental talents is Dr. Craig Jessop, Dean of Utah State University’s Caine College of the Arts.  Jessop will be in Salt Lake City this weekend conducting an ensemble for the Madeleine Choir School’s 20th-anniversary celebration Sunday March 6th at 8pm at the Cathedral of the Madeleine with a performance of Claudio Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers.  We are sure this performance will be fabulous under Dean Jessop’s direction!

Utah State University Caine College of the Arts, Madeleine Choir School Events

 Image Credit: Paul Fraughton | Salt Lake Tribune

Image Credit: Paul Fraughton | Salt Lake Tribune

Sparano + Mooney Architecture to Address the University of Utah

The University of Utah is a world-class research institution with a reputation for promoting sustainable design. In 2011, the University was ranked third among all similar institutions in the country for green power consumption by the EPA. As a pioneer of sustainable design in Salt Lake City ourselves, we understand the University of Utah's commitment to sustainability and renewable energy. It is with that in mind we are proud to announce that our very own Anne Mooney will be addressing students at the University as part of the 2016 School of Architecture Lecture Series.

Anne's presentation will take place on Friday, February 26 at 4 PM. She will be joining two other important architectural voices in addressing students at the College of Architecture and Planning during the three-lecture series of 2016.

Training Architects of the Future

We are thrilled that our architectural firm can play a role in helping to train the architects of the future. Regardless of what Anne intends to present – and she has not let us in on the details as yet – we know it will be important to the students fortunate enough to participate. Anne is a leader in contemporary and sustainable design in SLC, representing our firm's commitment to protecting the future by designing sustainable and environmentally friendly structures today.

Tomorrow's architects will undoubtedly face challenges that we could never have conceived of. But they will also have access to new technologies and methodologies at their disposal. We fully expect to see the eventual graduates of the university's College of Architecture and Planning to go on to do great things within the discipline of architecture. They are the ones who will be creating the cutting edge structures that will define the landscape for decades to come. They will figure out great ways to incorporate sustainable technologies into awe-inspiring visual designs. We are fortunate that Sparano + Mooney Architecture can be part of this by addressing students and the architectural community this year.

Sustainability Matters in Architecture

Sustainability has not always been an important element of architectural design. In days gone by, visual appeal was among the most important factors in designing new structures of all kinds. But with the Industrial Revolution came the need for natural resources we needed to power machinery, heavy equipment, and even the vehicles that transported us from place to place. Energy was also incorporated into buildings by way of electric service, heating and cooling, indoor plumbing, and so on.

We now find ourselves in a place where our modern technology requires tremendous amounts of energy to function. It is no longer just about turning on the lights or providing heat when the weather turns cold. Our energy needs are so much greater in a day and age where global communications and high-speed data networking are the backbone of most of what we do. And that is one of the reasons attention to sustainability matters so much.

There is little hope that we will consume less energy in the future. If nature takes its course, and she always does, our need for energy will only continue to expand as society itself grows. And sooner or later, that growth will lead to an exhaustion of the energy resources we now use. Sustainability is the only way to ensure that our future will remain bright even in the midst of this increased energy consumption.

Sustainable design in SLC is all about making the best use of every available energy resource. It is about efficiency, conservation, and finding new ways of doing things that do not require as much energy. We are thrilled to be part of it.



3 Challenges of Religious Architecture

Sparano + Mooney is extremely proud to announce that we are winners of the 2015 Religious Architecture Award, a prestigious international award given annually by the American Institute of Architects Interfaith Forum on Art and Architecture.  Our architectural design work is featured in the current issue of Faith and Form magazine’s annual awards issue. Our reputation for contemporary architecture in Salt Lake City is one of the things that helped us secure the contract to design the award-winning St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church facilities in West Jordan. It has been quite a project.

For the benefit of our readers, we wanted to take the opportunity of winning the Faith and Form award to explain some of the unique challenges of designing religious architecture. As you might expect, religious architecture is different in a number of different ways. The three biggest challenges we face on these kinds of projects are as follows:

1. Individual Tenants of the Faith

Every form of religion has its unique tenants that dictate everything from worship styles to doctrine. Those tenants play into the worship atmosphere people expect to encounter when they attend religious services. Therefore, architectural firms like ours have to be cognizant of any particular religious tenants that will be displayed outwardly within the facility.

Architecture must sensitively reflect what a faith community believes in a way that encourages them to participate in worship. At the same time, it must be forward-looking in order to accommodate the needs of future generations. This is a fine line to walk given the fact that almost every faith community retains strong ties to the past even as they evolve from one generation of the faithful to the next.

2. Individual Faith Culture

Different religious systems all have unique beliefs and doctrines. But even within a single system, churches in various locations have individual cultures that determine what weekly worship services look like. One church in Southern California may be extremely laid back and casual, for example, while in another church in the Northeast, under the same denomination, it can be more reserved and traditional. Local faith community culture is something we have to consider in religious architecture.

Fortunately for us, our local area is very receptive to contemporary architecture. Salt Lake City and Los Angeles churches of all faiths we work with are open to a full range of modern designs that allow us to do some very good things. We strive at all times to make sure that each of our designs, no matter how contemporary or traditional, reflects the culture of faith for the religious community we are serving.

3. Local Building Codes and Regulations

Religious institutions in America enjoy quite a bit of latitude and freedom. When it comes to local building codes and regulations, however, they are subject to some unique restrictions due to the fact that churches are meeting places that tend to accommodate large amounts of people. Our firm must be conscious of those codes and regulations whenever we are involved in religious architecture or sacred space design.

Just as one example, a religious facility must have ample exit points capable of accommodating large volumes of worshipers who might need to exit quickly. We must design those exit points to be fully functional without distracting from the worship environment. Doing so is not always easy.

Here at Sparano + Mooney, we find opportunities to be involved in religious architecture both challenging and stimulating. We are thankful to have had the chance to be part of the St. Joseph the Worker project in West Jordan, and we hope to have more similar opportunities in the future. We are passionate about contemporary architecture in Salt Lake City, Park City and throughout Southern California – whether that means designing a new church facility in Los Angeles or the latest downtown office building in Salt Lake.


When Architecture and Photography Meet – Wow!

CNN Style contributor Tish Wrigley recently authored a fascinating article about photography and architecture. It was published on the CNN website on January 5 of this year (2016). In the piece, Wrigley detailed how a skilled photographer can do for architecture what even the best architects cannot do for themselves: make their work travel. The piece is well worth the read if you are interested in knowing what can happen when architecture and photography meet for the purposes of creating art.

Both mediums are art forms in and of themselves. We know that. Whether we are designing commercial architecture in Salt Lake City or a residential project on the other side of the state, we know that what we design will speak volumes about our firm and the communities we serve. Likewise, photographers have similar experiences. The work they create tells the world who they are as artists, yet it also brings to life subject matter that viewers may have no other means of experiencing. When you put the two together, the results can be absolutely incredible.


Buildings Don't Travel

At the core of Wrigley's article is a very real problem architects face every day: buildings don't travel. It is not as though the SLC architects we employ can pick up their buildings, throw them in a day bag, and carry them across the country to show to other people. The best we can do is create portfolios of our work. Photography is an important part of a portfolio, especially when the art form of picture taking is able to capture the essence and art form of architecture.

Portuguese photographer Fernando Guerra is one of the photography artists profiled by Wrigley. Guerra is an award-winning photographer whose recent work from Switzerland is garnering strong reviews around the world. As Guerra tells it, the work he does is by no means easy. Where you or I might take a cheap automatic camera and snap half a dozen photos in less than a minute, Guerra waited all day to get the perfect shot of the EPFL Quartier Nord at dusk.

Guerra's experience in Switzerland offers an excellent explanation of why exquisite photography can make architecture come alive as an art form. Both types of work require a commitment to taking as much time as necessary to create the best possible result. Both require a commitment to creativity, forward thinking design, and finding a way to appeal to the observer on an incredibly personal level. Those who do it well are creating more than just buildings and photographs; they are creating an intensely experiential form of art.

The Next Best Thing to Being Live

Our role as residential and commercial architects in Salt Lake City gives us the opportunity to participate in a lot of great projects. The local area is essentially our canvas. Those who appreciate our work (and live in the Salt Lake City region) can enjoy driving around and seeing all our creations live. But for those who do not live here, photography is the next best thing. Viewing pictures shot by a skilled artist can evoke the same kinds of emotions as one would experience by standing in the doorway or viewing one of the structures from the street.

We wholeheartedly agree with Tish Wrigley and the concept of bringing photography and architecture together to create stunning art. There is something about the two mediums that work incredibly well together, allowing people all over the world to experience architecture from places they will never have the opportunity to visit. As architects, we owe a lot to photographers.


1.    CNN Style –

Assembly-Line Building: The Biggest Hindrance to Sustainability?

At Sparano + Mooney Architecture, we are full-fledged supporters of sustainable design. Salt Lake City mostly agrees with this philosophy as well, but perhaps only in principle. When it actually comes to purchasing a new home designed around sustainability principles, those principles may no longer be so important. And unfortunately, it frequently boils down to money. We have created a system of assembly-line home building in North America and Europe that makes it possible to erect massive volumes of new homes at affordable prices. But this practice could be the biggest hindrance to sustainability in the long run.

We note that the UK is in the midst of a perceived housing crisis that has created an environment making it nearly impossible to move up or down the property ladder easily and affordably. Housing advocates in the UK say one of the biggest problems is that they are not building enough new homes – especially for the elderly and low-income young people. Furthermore, the new homes that are being built are not affordable for those who need them most.

There is no talk of a similar crisis here in the U.S., yet the cost-availability issue is still alive and well in this country. We want affordable housing. In fact, affordable housing is said to be a fundamental human right. But creating that kind of housing requires reliance on assembly-line building strategies. We can explain the dichotomy this presents by contrasting what we do in the U.S. with something happening right now in Bali.


Building Sustainability with Bamboo

Tree Hugger magazine recently profiled a Bali architect and her construction team who are changing the housing market in that country one structure at a time. They are doing so with the extensive use of bamboo, a natural material that, according to Tree Hugger, has the:

·         compressive strength of concrete

·         a strength-to-weight ratio equal to steel, and

·         a capacity for regeneration far superior to timber

Architect Elora Hardy absolutely loves bamboo as a primary building material. She says it is underutilized worldwide and, if we could change that, bamboo could be one of the most prolific materials for housing people, especially in tropical regions.

Here's the problem with bamboo: it is a wild grass that is both hollow and tapered. Therefore, it is almost impossible to streamline bamboo construction in the same way we do with timber. All of the bamboo structures Hardy creates are custom designed and built according to the particular bamboo supply she has to work with.

With traditional timber construction, it is possible to machine lumber in such a way as to create uniform pieces that can be fit together to create fabricated designs on a large scale. This is why builders in America can construct entire neighborhoods for next to nothing. You cannot do that with bamboo.

Sustainability at a Price

What Hardy is doing in Bali is both noble and worthwhile. She is creating beautiful residential structures using a very sustainable material and a design philosophy that seeks to be in harmony with the land. But would such sustainable design in Los Angeles or in Salt Lake City work? Would it work anywhere in the U.S.?

The truth is that sustainability is not always the least expensive path. Building sustainable housing comes at a price we don't seem all that excited about paying. And until we are willing to invest in the sort of customized design and construction that maximizes the principles of sustainability, we will continue to favor assembly-line home building as the primary means of meeting our needs. Assembly-line construction is a hindrance to innovative sustainability. The question is, does it need to be?


1.      Tree Hugger –

Best Architecture in 2015 just announced by Faith and Form / National AIA design award

We are honored to have our design for Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Church be recognized by Faith and Form Magazine and The AIA Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture as one of the architects who are a national recipient of a 2015 Religious Architecture Award.  This design award recognizes exemplary sacred spaces of all denominations throughout the world.  Check out this year’s architecture at Archdaily.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from all of us at Sparano + Mooney Architecture!  Here are 10 simple life changes we can do to help reduce emissions, promote healthier environments and lives in 2016. 

1) Eat less meat

You don’t have to make the commitment to become vegan to make a difference. Participate in Meatless Mondays, weekday vegetarianism or even choose veggies over meat simply once a week.

2) Don’t buy plastic water bottles, bring your reusable one from home.

The reasons to avoid disposable plastic water bottles are endless. Not only do they take hundreds of years to decompose, but also they release toxins in the process, which are harmful to the Earth and you. Bottled water is also less regulated than tap water, and it costs exponentially more.

3) Take public transportation/participate in active transportation.

If you can’t use public transit daily, try taking it a few times a week. Or, if you’re looking for a way to burn some calories, enjoy the outdoors riding a bike or walking and emit fewer greenhouse gasses.

4) Eat local products.

Local products use fewer fossil fuels to get to you, promote food safety and support the local economy

5) Divert your trash from landfills by composting your food and recycling.

6) Make your home more sustainable and get an energy audit.

7) Skip the plastic bag and bring your own.

Plastic bags never fully decompose; keep bags out of landfills by having a reusable one.

8) Eliminate phantom power.

Most electronic devices continue to use electricity when plugged in, even after they have been powered down. By unplugging chargers, small appliances and household electronics, you can save on your power bill and cut down your carbon footprint.

9) Bring utensils instead of using plastic disposable ones.

Say no to plastic utensils. From producer to consumer, the journey of one plastic spoon is a long one and uses many resources along the way. Cut down on this unnecessary waste by bringing your own utensils.

10) Unsubscribe from junk mail and cut the paper waste.

By putting your name on no-mail lists, you help eliminate unwanted paper waste.


Source: "Ten Simple Sustainable New Years Resolutions"
By Eva Grimmer, UofU Sustainability Office 

3 Reasons Architecture Is More than a Construction Process

There is no shortage of contemporary architecture in Utah. For example, the famous John Sugden houses in Salt Lake City and Park City are some of the finest examples of modern residential architecture in the state. Even our very own green Maryfield home, which is the first LEED-certified home (LEED Silver) in Utah, is further solidifying the Beehive State as one of the most important places to be if you are interested in modern design. So why is it so difficult to convince the general public that contemporary architecture can be both beautiful and environmentally and structurally sound?

We are fully convinced that architecture is more than just another construction process. It is an art form by which talented artists - architects can incorporate function, form and beauty into a single package for either residential or commercial purposes. You might even say that architecture is a lot like the human body inasmuch as there are external parts you do not see covered by the beautiful exterior you do see. When done right, the resulting structure is both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sound.

We do what we do because we believe in contemporary architecture. Utah seems to agree with us.

Still not convinced?

Then we offer you these three reasons architecture is more than just another process of building:

1. Every Structure Tells a Story

Smithsonian photographer Carolyn Russo recently published a book journaling some of her favorite architectural structures in the world. While this brief description of her book may evoke images of grand office buildings or ultramodern sports or performing arts complexes, Russo's subjects are completely unexpected. She photographed her favorite air traffic control towers from around the world.

Why such an odd topic? Russo cited several reasons, among them being her belief that every structure tells a story. Whether that story relates to how it was built, how it may have been used in the past, or even what it takes to gain access to it in the modern era, the stories are what make architectural structures so intriguing. Often it is the designs themselves to create the stories.

2. Buildings are Interactive

Every building structure on the planet is interactive. Buildings are interactive not merely in the sense that people occupy them and put them to specific uses. They are also interactive in the thoughts and emotions they evoke. For example, you probably still have very fond memories of the childhood home you grew up in. Whether you are talking about contemporary architecture in Utah or a centuries-old traditional design in Massachusetts, the perceptions one has of the buildings he or she interacts with shape the memories of the future.

3. Architecture Is Public Art

The perception of architecture as art has really grown and expanded since World War II. Where prewar buildings were mostly function and little else, postwar architects were given the freedom to move beyond functionality and into the realm of visual beauty. Today, architecture is a public art form of sorts that creates beautiful works that everyone can enjoy. From houses to office buildings to industrial complexes, we can all appreciate the art that is architecture every single day.

Sparano + Mooney Architecture is thrilled to be part of a group of designers creating some of the finest contemporary architecture in Utah. We are honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the vibrant fabric of our state through designs that capture the imagination, tell a story, and even make a statement from time to time. We believe architecture is more than just another building process; it is an opportunity to create something truly worthy of a legacy.


1.      Smithsonian –

Repurposing Architecture, for Architecture

In the small central French city of Claremont-Ferrand is a fascinating building with a storied history dating back more than 80 years. The structure is surrounded by residential neighborhoods and a beautiful park, making the ground on which it sits more peaceful than one might expect for such a magnificent structure. And now this building, which was once a 1930s era sanatorium, has been repurposed by a renowned French architecture firm for future architects.

Paris-based architectural firm Du Besset-Lyon was commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture to find a way to repurpose the aging building that had fallen into disrepair in recent years. After an initial study, the firm decided it was the perfect structure for a new architecture school run by the Ministry. Upon completion, it would be the latest in a series of 20 schools throughout France that teach young emerging architects the skills they need to create the design of the future.

A Nearly Perfect Fit

Contemporary architecture is almost always associated with creating new buildings that make a significant visual impact on the surrounding area. Rarely do we associate it with repurposing old buildings. Yet as leading Salt Lake City architects with projects all over the American West, Sparano + Mooney Architecture knows the value of repurposing. We can see that value all over the Claremont-Ferrand projects in France. It is almost as though the original sanatorium knew it would eventually be an architecture school.

When the sanatorium was first constructed, it was believed that those who would be admitted there could find healing in fresh air and sunshine. Therefore, the main building is a long and narrow structure that invited residents to enter from the north and move south toward their individual rooms. Each of the rooms was constructed with plenty of glass to allow in as much sunlight as possible. The free-flowing movement of the building seems optimal for encouraging the creative thinking of architectural students.

On the north end of the main structure, Du Besset-Lyon architects created an extension that includes meeting space, auditoriums, gallery space, and a handful of other public areas. Surprisingly enough, sunlight and exterior views are deliberately controlled within the spaces. The designers wanted to create areas where students could meet and collaborate with one another without distraction. Although the two parts of the main structure seem to be at odds with one another, they work very well together to form a complete, modern architectural school.

Making New from Old

It can be very challenging to repurpose an old building for a new use without damaging the history of the original structure. In Claremont-Ferrand, the designers succeeded on a grand scale. We strive to do the same thing as Salt Lake City architects working with some very impressive architectural history ourselves.

Repurposing is all about taking advantage of what already exists rather than developing previously untouched land or demolishing older structures in favor of the new.  And while we certainly have nothing against brand-new construction from the ground up, there is something uniquely special about being able to repurpose an old building. It is almost as though we are given the opportunity to breathe new life into a structure that might otherwise be on its last breath.

It will be interesting to see how design students react to the new architecture space at Claremont-Ferrand. Having seen some of the photos ourselves, we anticipate they will do very well in their new school environment. Thanks to the efforts of Du Besset-Lyon, some of France's brightest architects of the future will be honored to learn the fundamentals of their craft in some inspiring surroundings.


1.      Dezeen Magazine –

With gratitude

This Thanksgiving Day we are so grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate with the best architects, designers, artists and consultants in the industry as we serve amazing clients who care so much about the built environment.  A BIG thanks to our community, we hope you enjoy a relaxing day with loved ones!