Sometimes called ‘ugly,’ the federal courthouse in SLC just won a design award

Posted at 9:20 AM, Sep 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 11:20:17-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The new U.S. District Courthouse in Salt Lake City, which has been called names ranging from “the swamp cooler” to “the Borg Cube,” has been honored by a jury of architects, contractors and design professionals for is aesthetic.

“The architecture of the United States Courthouse Annex similarly possesses continuity with its predecessor and departs from the past,” the award states. “Design Awards jurors cited the annex’s 10-story cubic shape as a classically inspired signifier of dignity and strength, for instance, yet they also observed how that volume contrasts the strong horizontality of the Moss courthouse.”

Federal Courthouse - Courtesy: The Downtown Alliance

An artist’s rendering of the federal courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City. (Image via Downtown Alliance)

The Moss Courthouse is the old federal courthouse, which was a converted post office with a classical style in design. It now houses the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The new courthouse was built because of overcrowding in the old building.

The inside of the U.S. District Courthouse features natural woods and a lot of light, something the jury took note of.

“Jurors lauded the project for realizing the daylight concept at all scales of execution, calling the United States Courthouse Annex a model for contemporary judicial architecture and a step forward for the federal government,” the entry states.

Not everyone has given the courthouse glowing praise. Arguably, it’s been one of the most controversial buildings to come on the Salt Lake City skyline in decades. Congressman Rob Bishop has called it one of the “ugliest” buildings in Utah and even some judges in the courthouse have privately grumbled to FOX 13 about the building’s ultra-modern design.

The courthouse was honored with 17 other buildings including the Coast Guard Headquarters, a new Social Security Administration Building and the Mariposa Land Port of Entry in Nogalez, Ariz.