Salt Lake City Main Public Library
Project Title
Salt Lake City Main Public Library
Alternate Titles
SLC Library
The Salt Lake City Main Public Library occupies a city block across from City Hall. The urban design plan reimagines the role of the library in a downtown setting, drawing the library’s program into the city and the city’s program into the library.

The building consists of a five story, triangular-shaped structure housing the stacks and readers’ facilities, an adjacent rectangular administration wing, and a glass-enclosed urban room, all contained by a crescent-shaped wall. The wall descends toward the piazza, providing a sweeping external staircase that connects the piazza to a rooftop garden overlooking the surrounding Wasatch Mountains. The urban room opens into the piazza, which is lined within the wall with shops, restaurants, meeting rooms, and an auditorium.

Within the crescent, reading galleries occupy the four levels above the retail areas and connect by bridges to the main library block. On the lowest level the children’s library spills outdoors into an amphitheater and a children’s garden, around which cluster story rooms designed as part of the art program. A south-facing, five-story double-glazed “lens” opens the entire library toward the mountain view while providing shade or trapping the sun’s heat, as appropriate to each season.

Images on this page: 1 Façade night view; 2 Aerial view of site; 3 Interior view; 4 Southeast façade with double-glazed lens; 5 Elevation rendering; 6 Site plan rendering; 7 Site plan with light diagram; 8 Entry level plan; 9 Interior sketch; 10 Early conceptual sketches

Salt Lake City, Utah, United States of America

between 1999 and 2003
Completion Date
Client: Salt Lake City Library;

Cost: US $78 million;

Size: 20,902 sq m (225,000 sq ft)

Project Type
Safdie Architects
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