AKA: Evans & Sutherland Building, Salt Lake City, UT

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Ehrlich-Rominger, Architects, AIA (firm); Reaveley Engineers and Associates, Incorporated (firm); Joseph Ehrlich (architect); Ronald Reaveley (structural engineer); John Rominger (architect)

Dates: constructed 1990

Building History

The Los Altos, CA firm of Ehrlich Rominger, Architects, AIA, designed the Evans and Sutherland Building in Salt Lake City, UT, working with the structural engineering firm of Reaveley Engineers and Associates, Incorporated, of Salt Lake City.

University of Utah Computer Science Professors David Cannon Evans (1924-1998) and Ivan Sutherland (born 1938) founded Evans and Sutherland in 1968, focusing on computer graphics technologies. Initially, Evans and Sutherland received a $5 million grant from the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), the same agency that funded internet research, to work on flight training simulators for the US military. The firm branched out in the 1970s with a British partner, RSL (Rediffusion Simulation Limited, to produce pilot-training, flight simulators for major airlines. By 1978, they had managed to take take their company public, selling stock on the NASDAQ market. The firm's business expanded greatly during the Reagan military buildup of the 1980s, and by 1986, it had 1,072 employees. This rapid growth in the 1980s necessitated the building of a new office building.

Ehrlich-Rominger worked with the structural engineer, Reaveley Engineers and Associates of Salt Lake City on the building's steel framing system that needed to resist large earthquakes that struck the region. The firm worked with the steel firm Vulcraft, then a division of Nucor, on the building's base isolation foundation. The building contractor was the Bettilyon Corporation, steel fabricator, D & H Steel Supply, Incorporated, and the steel erector, Steel Deck Erectors, Incorporated.

Building Notes

A detail of the Evans and Sutherland Building's innovative framing system appeared on the cover of Stanley W. Crawley and Robert M. Dillon, Steel Building Analysis and Design, Fourth Edition, (New York: Wiley and Sons, Incorporated, 1993), title page.)

Of this framing system, an advertisement for the steelmaker Vulcraft stated: "We not only supplied the steel joists and joist girders for the project, we also helped design the framing system so that only limited structural damage could be expected from an earthquake measuring up to 7.5 on the Richter scale. That was essential as the builing, which was constructed for Evans & Sutherland Computer Corporation, is located within a mile of the Wasatch Fault in Salt Lake city. What's more, Evans & Sutherland is a leading designer of special-purpose digital computers, software systems and display devices--products extremely vulnerable to damage from seismic tremors. To plan for maximum protection, Vulcraft was asked to join with the architects and engineers at the design stage of the project. Already, they'd decided to use a 'base isolation' system, the most advanced buffering method available. But using our steel joists and joist girders was also an important decision. The joists and joist girders are much lighter in weight than wide flange beams, so the entire building required less steel, lighter columns and less foundation. And this not only lightened the load for the base isolators, it saved appreciably on building costs."
(See "Making this Building Safe from Earthquakes Would Give Most Companies the Shakes," (Vulcraft advertisement), Architecture, vol. 79, no. 3, 03/1990, p. 5.)

PCAD id: 23158