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Since post-World War II, the mid-century modern architectural style has significantly impacted residential housing, commercial buildings, institutional buildings, and more throughout the United States. Utah is no exception, and you can find many examples of historic mid-century modern architecture and design elements from present-day mid-century modern architects throughout the state. Let’s explore mid-century modern architecture characteristics and how they have impacted building styles in the past and today.

What is Mid-Century Modern Architecture?

Mid-century modern architecture is a style born out of the optimism of post-World War II. It emphasizes clean lines, minimalist design, and a connection to the outdoors. This style uses a range of building materials like glass, steel, concrete, and wood panels. Since access to the outdoors is necessary to mid-century modern interior architecture, large windows, open concept space, and entrances and exits encompass much of the wall space. To summarize, mid-century modern architecture characteristics are:

  • Clean lines and geometric shapes like right angles, straight lines, and flat or gabled roofs
  • Connection to the outdoors through large, often floor-to-ceiling windows, glass walls, multiple entrances and exits, outdoor living space, and an exterior that blends with its natural surroundings
  • Functional and minimalist design with open floor plans, built-ins, changes in elevation, and little decoration or extras to emphasize the structure.

Mid-century modern architecture history goes back to 1945 at the close of the Second World War. The United States had a sense of optimism and growth following the war. Many of the founding mid-century modern architects came from war-torn Germany and Europe. They brought their design ideas and skills to homeowners and businesses ready to embrace a new era. The mid-century modern era lasted from approximately 1945 to 1969. Some of the most famous mid-century modern architects include:

  • Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Walter Gropius
  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Marcel Breuer
  • Richard Neutra
  • Rudolph Schindler

Some of the most famous mid-century modern architecture is in Palm Springs, California. However, mid-century modern home architecture examples across the U.S. include the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, CT, the Neutra VDL Studio and Residence in Silver Lake, CA, and the Farnsworth House in Plano, IL.

Salt Lake City, Utah corporate office entryway with mid-century modern architectural design elements Mid-Century Modern Architecture in Utah

Utah has stunning mid-century modern residential architecture and mid-century modern commercial architecture. There are thousands of historic mid-century modern homes throughout Salt Lake City, and many mid-century modern home architects incorporate design elements into new builds per clients’ requests. Think Architecture’s Almond Street townhome project is one great example of mid-century modern design in a new build.

There is stunning mid-century modern architecture in both the public and private sectors, like the Skullcandy office building, 24-Hour Fitness, Clinton City Police Station, Bountiful Public Works building, Murray Fire Station 81, and more. Think architects have also created numerous award-winning mid-century modern landscape architecture projects and elements in their projects, like the Bingham Creek Regional Park and Wardle Fields Regional Park.

Incorporating Mid-Century Modern Design

Think Architecture’s contemporary architects and designers are incorporating mid-century modern elements into new construction projects by emphasizing natural lighting through large windows and skylights, natural materials like concrete, wood, and steel, and an emphasis on clean lines and open spaces. Think Architecture designs more than just buildings; our holistic approach to an interior, exterior, and surrounding landscape works in harmony with the ideals of mid-century modern architecture.

There are architectural challenges associated with preserving and adapting Mid-Century Modern structures. Because many of the historic structures were built over 50 years ago, they need preservation and repair. Some materials used in mid-century modern architecture, like wood, aluminum, and glass, need to be treated, maintained, or replaced more frequently than other materials. Flat roofs also need to be kept clear of debris to prevent leaking.

Many of the design elements of mid-century modern architecture and interior design remain essential to Utah’s real estate market and cultural identity. We must have architects who understand the various aspects and both preserve and incorporate them into the future makeup of the state.

Townhomes in Salt Lake City Utah showcase mid-century modern architecture - modern minimalist residential architectural design

Have a Project in Mind?

Think Architecture is one of the most respected firms in Utah. Our modern architects specialize in architectural design, landscape architecture, interior design, land planning, and construction management services in both the public and private sectors. No project is too large or too small, and with our dedication to innovation and quality with unparalleled vision, you will be astounded at what we can create with you. Contact us for more information or to get started today.