An Introduction to the Salt Lake Cultural Core

Picture your perfect Saturday night: Does it include a musical performance at Abravanel Hall, followed by a stroll through downtown and a meal at one of the award-winning downtown restaurants, brewpubs or bistros? Or, perhaps it involves a ballet at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theater, stargazing at the Clark Planetarium, and an exhibition at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art? A Utah Jazz basketball game? An outdoor film in Pioneer Park? There’s no question about it – Salt Lake City is a vibrant community, with a rich artistic, civic, cultural and religious heritage, and we are proud to be involved with making our downtown an even more dynamic and celebrated place to live, work and create!

El Mac & Retna Ave Maria Mural, 158 East 200 South, Salt Lake City

Sparano + Mooney Architecture is working with a national team led by the Cultural Planning Group on the Salt Lake Cultural Core, a master planning initiative that seeks to be a catalyst for long-term development in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County. The “Core” – an area stretching from North Temple to 400 South and from 600 West to 400 East – is identifiable as the heart of the city’s happenings, and the master plan intends to heighten civic pride in our downtown community and its offerings. Luckily for residents, both the City and County recognize the importance of having a vibrant, identifiable and distinct arts and cultural center to enhance quality of life and economic viability. Our team of architects are leading the placemaking, urban design and public art planning effort to infuse the City with great design experiences at multiple scales. 

In 2010, the two local governments joined forces on the Cultural Core Interlocal and established a sales-tax based funding mechanism that could invest nearly $10 million over 20 years in Salt Lake City’s downtown Cultural Core. The original committee is working with the current consultant groups, including Sparano + Mooney Architecture, to develop a master plan that will help distribute funds and compliment the shared vision of creating a strong, vital downtown. The goal? Attract diverse local and out-of-state visitors and encourage engagement with our city’s artists, cultural and creative experiences. The key areas of investment include:

Programs to enliven the Core and attract varied audiences

Place-Making to strengthen the identity of the Cultural Core by enhancing physical and visual connections between venues and throughout the area of focus

Promotional Initiatives to build the region’s cultural brand and deliver actionable information to local residents and visitors

Significant input will be sought from community conversations and workshops with local architects, urban designers and practitioners, among other focus groups. We are excited to move forward with the planning and design of this Salt Lake Cultural Core Master Plan – if you have any ideas about what you’d like to see more of in your creative community, let us know!