Home » News




ENR Announces Awards for Best Projects

Three GSBS projects have been selected by ENR Magazine as merit award winners of the 2014 Best Projects competition in the Mountain States region of Utah, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.  ENR provides news, features and information in all facets of the development, design and construction marketplace.

GSBS received merit awards in the categories of Higher Education/Research, Office/Retail/Mixed Use, and Specialty Contracting.

According to ENR's Mark Shaw, a panel of eight judges from all areas of the industry—architects, GCs and engineers—selected winners in each of categories in this, the 14th year of competition.

The GSBS buildings receiving Merit Award recognition are:

Higher Education/Research
Salt Lake Community College Center for Arts and Media, Salt Lake City
Contractor: Big-D Construction
Lead Design Firm: GSBS Architects
Owner/Developer: Salt Lake Community College/Utah DFCM

Xactware Corporate Office Building, Lehi, Utah
Contractor: Big-D Construction
Lead Design Firm: GSBS Architects
Owner/Developer: Traverse Mountain Commercial Venture

Specialty Contracting
Lewis Bus Group, North Salt Lake, Utah
Contractor: Ascent Construction Inc.
Lead Design Firm: GSBS Architects
Owner/Developer: Silver Creek Properties


GSBS Architect Advances in the Firm

Justin Jacobs has become a Principal with GSBS Architects. He is a Licensed Architect in the State of Idaho, member of the AIA and LEED accredited professional. He has more than 20 years of experience in architecture and construction management and takes great pride in his abilities to organize and communicate with clients and team members, successfully manage project teams through the design and documentation phases and maintain budget and schedule through the construction phase of each project.

During his 16 years with GSBS Architects, Jacobs has been involved in in many projects spanning the firms’ entire portfolio. From high end residential projects like the Boulder Shack and Penrose remodel to state of the art facilities like the recently completed Xactware Office building and Salt Lake City Public Safety Building. One of his primary focus areas over the years has been in the industrial sector, managing projects like the LEED Gold Certified Rio Tinto Distribution Center and the Newmont Long Canyon gold mine facilities.



Public Safety Building Coverage

The building tile work was recently featured in Tile Magazine
Article on the building in Commercial Building Products.

Read the Entire Article »



GSBS Principal, Stephen Smith, FAIA, AICP Retires April 1

LEFT PHOTO: STEPHEN SMITH, FAIA, AICP | RIGHT PHOTO: Stephen Smith at his Investiture to the AIA College of Fellows.

(Salt Lake City, UT – March 26, 2014) Stephen B. Smith, Principal and Director of Planning at GSBS Architects and one of the few professionals in Utah who is both an architect and a planner, will retire from the firm next Monday. His career spans more than 40 years and he has seen the firm expand into a multidisciplinary team of architects, planners and staff with offices in Utah and Texas.

Smith has been recognized for his creative planning and designs, which are reflected in projects throughout Utah. Firm President Kevin Miller says Smith's projects “have transformed communities by creating exciting gathering places that have long term beneficial impacts.”

One of his plans that has on-going, positive results is the Salt lake City Open Space Plan that he created more than 20 years ago. The plan recognized the original waterways, drainages and Shoreline Trail and used them to create paths throughout the city. Today that plan continues to be implemented with connections to Bridging the Gap at Parley's Canyon, the Parley's Creek Trail and pathways to the Jordan River.

More recently, Smith completed the awards-winning Fairbourne Station Master Plan in West Valley City and the Promenade, a 4-acre urban park that is being hailed as one of the most exciting examples of urban planning and city renewal in the country. He created the master plan and design for the project that envisioned a mixed-use development of housing, hotels, offices, and retail which connects city hall, the library, police station and the courthouse, as well as the new light rail stop.



December 16, 2013 - Public Safety Building Featured in EDC Magazine

The net-zero Public Safety Building in Salt Lake City is home to the fire and police departments, and functions as the nerve center for addressing all city-wide emergencies.

Read the entire Article >>


December 12, 2013 - Salt Lake Community College Unveils Media Center

What was originally the South High School swimming pool is now the Center for Arts and Media at the South City Campus of Salt Lake Community College. The space was dramatically transformed by GSBS Architects into a 130,000-square-foot center which provides space for journalism, television broadcast production, music technology, and recording and visual arts. The Communication Department, Visual Art & Design Department, Performing Arts Department and Fashion and Interior Design programs at SLCC also use the space.

The $45 million project helps position the state as a key player in the film, high-tech and creative industries.

Read the entire Article>>



November 12, 2013 - Public Safety Building is greenest of the green in the country

The city's new Public Safety Building is the first building of its kind in the country to earn a "net zero" energy rating, meaning it generates as much energy as it uses.

Published in Deseret News - read full story online



October 16, 2013 - David Brems Appointed to Clean Air Panel

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert appointed David Brems to a newly-created 38-member panel that will spend the next year deciding how Utah can tackle the problem of poor air quality.

The Clean Air Action Team will study one of the state’s toughest environmental challenges and recommend “practical and effective strategies to improve Utah’s air quality,” the Governor said when he appointed Brems and others to the panel, including advocates, lawmakers, industry representatives, policy experts, academics and health care providers to serve on the panel.

Read more about the Clean Air Panel »



October 10, 2013 - David Brems appointed to the Dean Search Committee for the College of Architecture + Planning at the University of Utah

University of Utah Sr. Vice President of Academic Affairs Ruth Watkins announced yesterday the appointment of David Brems to the Dean Search Committee for the College of Architecture + Planning at the University. The Committee will conduct and internal and international search for a new dean with the goal of providing recommendations by July 1st.



GSBS Energy Engineer, Curtis Clark will be speaking at the Net Zero Cities Conference in Fort Collins, Colorado - October 23-24, 2013.

The event will bring together thought leaders from around the globe to share their systems-based approaches, processes and examples of success in working towards net zero at the community scale. The event includes both presentations and working sessions. The working sessions in particular will be a hands-on, across-the-table opportunity for participants to engage in active dialogue and share the strategies on which communities, businesses, utilities, higher education institutions are collaborating to reach their net zero goals.

Register now for the 2013 Net Zero Cities, October 23 & 24 in Fort Collins, Colorado

Learn More: http://www.netzerocities.net/about/

public safetey building


Salt Lake City's new Public Safety Building uses no more energy that it creates. GSBS Architects designed it that way.

When it officially opened in July 2013, the 335,000 square foot building, that includes both office and structured parking, met Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker's goal of creating the nation's first NZE public safety building.

At the beginning of planning, the mayor challenged the police, fire, city administration, city council, project manager, and the architect with a goal of creating the nation's first NZE public safety building. He selected this critical facility because of its specific programmatic demands, all which have been met:

  • It is an emergency operations center that functions as the nerve center for addressing all citywide emergencies, including the anticipated 7.5 seismic event that is predicted to hit the Wasatch front. This requires the building to not only be designed to immediate re-occupancy seismic standards in order to continue to operate through the seismic event, but it is able to do so separately from the electrical grid.
  • It is the new home of the SLC911 center for Salt Lake City, a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week facility that is fully functional regardless of power supply interruptions.
  • The facility houses the city’s back-up data center.
  • Workspace within the building was organized to foster collaboration between the police and fire departments enabling better public safety services for the residents of Salt Lake City.

It is one thing to design and construct a net zero energy (NZE) building for a client whose focus is saving energy; who has an abundant amount of land; and who is willing to dedicate the needed resources, including a user group that is committed to making a NZE building a successful venture. To do this in real life, with an urban site, a user group that initially didn't consider energy issues, and a budget that was developed without the foresight of what it would take to accomplish a NZE building is quite a different story. GSBS Architects led the process to accomplish the NZE challenge put forth by the Mayor.

There was little research to draw upon, and there are no national standards on which to rely. The architect and project manager had to develop an approach to solving the NZE challenge without sacrificing the needs of the users and the desires of the community for public space. We were required to stay within the budget which was developed prior to the net zero challenge, and to maintain the schedule in a very public project.

The result is a public facility which is an example of the future of architecture, sustainability, and where the building industry is going.



(Salt Lake City, UT – January 22, 2013) The Board of Directors of GSBS Architects has elected Kevin B. Miller, AIA as President of the firm. Miller has served as Managing Director for seven years and was named Chief Executive Officer last year.

Miller joined the firm in 1988 after receiving his Master of Architecture Degree from the University of Utah. He was elected to the board in 1999. Currently, Miller is the Principal in Charge of Salt Lake City's new $80 million Public Safety Building that will be completed in a few months. Throughout his career, he has been a leader in the design of courts and public safety facilities in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho recognized for his innovative solutions to complex building challenges.

Firm Founder Michael J. Stransky, FAIA, has been honored with the title of President-Emeritus and will continue to be associated with the firm he co-founded in 1979.

Under the direction of Stransky and co-founder Abram Gillies, GSBS built its practice around the design of complicated, technical buildings. With the addition of David Brems, a leader in passive solar design and daylighting, GSBS pioneered new designs for office buildings, residences, religious buildings, recreation centers, industrial facilities, and sports facilities. Stephen Smith, also a name-partner and one of the few licensed architects who is also a certified planner, strengthened GSBS's capabilities and led efforts to re-write the Salt Lake City Zoning Ordinance, create the Salt Lake Open Space Plan, and conduct master plans for the Utah Judicial System and the Utah Academic Libraries.

At the firm’s annual meeting in January, Valerie Nagasawa AIA was named a new director. She graduated from the University of Utah with a Master of Architecture in 1993, a Bachelor of Science in Architecture in 1991 and a Bachelor of Science in Economics in 1990. She is a LEED-accredited professional who joined GSBS Architects in 2000. Her work experience includes the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, Utah Museum of Natural History, West Valley City Animal Shelter and Hillside Middle School.


Utah Heritage Foundation » Analysis may provide tools for preservationists.
By Christopher Smart
The Salt Lake Tribune 
Dec 03 2012

Nobody knows precisely the impact of historic preservation on the economy of Utah and its cities.

Some have a notion that a core of historic buildings draws people and economic activity. Others say renovating old structures doesn’t make economic sense.

Soon, Utahns may get new insights into the costs and benefits of historic preservation. A study commissioned by the nonprofit Utah Heritage Foundation will analyze various aspects of the economy taking preservation into account.

The Washington D.C.-based consulting firm PlaceEconomics was awarded a contract and will begin research next month, said Kirk Huffaker, executive director of the Utah Heritage Foundation. A report is expected by the end of June.

"Our goal is to determine the direct and indirect benefits of historic preservation in Utah," Huffaker said. "It will help us understand preservation’s impact on jobs and employment, generation of tax revenue, downtown vitality and the importance to our economy of maintaining neighborhood and community character."

It also will evaluate the role heritage tourism plays in the state economy.

Huffaker declined to disclose the cost of the study.

The analysis will look at such things as the economic impact of commercial building renovations versus demolition and rebuilding, said Donovan Rypkema, who will lead the project for PlaceEconomics.

"When quality is part of the equation, historic preservation will always be competitive," Rypkema said.

The study also will attempt to analyze the impact of historic structures on community commercial areas.

"It’s a challenge to measure," he said. "But you can see patterns that result when you have a core of historic buildings."

In addition, it will examine property values of residential housing in local historic districts in contrast to values of homes outside those boundaries.

Rypkema noted that while he has yet to look at such districts in Utah, in some other cities, homes in historic districts retained property values at a higher rate than those outside of them.

Salt Lake City Council Chairman Soren Simonsen said the analysis is timely because Salt Lake City is wrestling with such topics as demolition of old buildings, as well as the formation of local historic districts.

"I’m pretty excited about this study," he said. "It will be valuable because there is a lot of misunderstanding of what historic preservation is and what its value is. [Salt Lake City] will be the beneficiary of this."

The economics of preserving old structures may be difficult to quantify, said Stephen Goldsmith, professor of architecture and planning at the University of Utah and former Salt Lake City planning director. But it’s well recognized that a community’s cultural identification and social fabric are reflected in its buildings.

"Not everything that can be counted, counts," he said. "And not everything that counts can be counted."

Goldsmith noted that a new school of thought sees demolition as wasteful in aesthetic as well as economic terms.

Reusing old buildings not only keeps communities from becoming "Any Place U.S.A." but can rekindle vibrancy in neighborhoods, according to Huffaker.

As an example, he pointed to the offices of Big D Construction on the corner of 400 West and 400 South in Salt Lake City that used to be the Fuller Paint building. The 1922 structure was renovated by the construction firm. Not only did that save the building, but its employees are helping revitalize the area, Huffaker said, because they dine and shop in the neighborhood around Pioneer Park.

"Historic preservation is often ranked at the bottom when it comes to a project because of the belief there is a higher cost," he said. "But you can look at preservation as an investment."


Courtesy: Standard-Examiner
By Nancy Van Valkenburg
October, 29, 2012

OGDEN — What’s brick and white and green all over?

That would be Ogden-Weber Tech’s Samuel H. and Marian K. Barker Health Technology Building, recently awarded a Gold LEED certification from the United States Green Building Council.

The 88,000-square-foot facility, designed by GSBS Architects and built by Okland Construction, opened in June 2011.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification is based on the building’s energy usage, carbon dioxide emission, efficient water use, indoor environmental quality and the effect of its employment of resources.

“We greatly appreciate the vision of GSBS Architects and Okland Construction that resulted in a beautiful, functional facility that met a higher standard for sustainability while staying within budget,” said Collette Mercier, president of Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College.

Factors that helped the Barker Building earn such a high LEED rating include: water efficiency due to low-flow fixtures; heat efficiency; good insulation; a storm water control system; use of regional construction materials; minimal infiltration by air (low draftiness); closeness to homes, businesses and public transportation; designated parking for fuel-efficient vehicles; use of materials with minimal volatile organic compounds; and a highly efficient, easily controlled electrical system.

Another factor is how pleasing the building is for occupants, said Clio Rayner, GSBS project architect.

The building was designed to be airy and light, with lots of windows featuring spectacular mountain views. Halls are wide, and stairways are open. Interior gardens feature low-maintenance potted plants surrounded by jagged landscaping gravel.

Engineering News-Record recently listed GSBS Architects among its Top 100 Green Design Firms in the United States.

“This recognition validates our commitment to sustainability in architecture,” Rayner said. “We have seen an evolution in the field of sustainable architecture practices over the last 10 years with the emphasis on sustainable design shifting from being ‘environmentally friendly’ to ‘real, measurable efficiency.’ ”

The Barker Family Health Technology Building houses all college health care programs, including dental or medical assisting, nurse assistant, medical coder or transcription, pharmacy technician, practical nursing and medical or dental office administration.


ENR Moutain States
October, 23, 2012

2012 Best Overall Intermountain Region
2010 Best Project Government / Public Buildings Category

The Natural History Museum of Utah's new $102-million home in the Rio Tinto Center began welcoming visitors in mid-November. The museum, administered by the University of Utah, sits on a 17-acre site on the upper southeastern edge of campus with sweeping views of the Salt Lake Valley.

The 163,000-sq-ft building is home to a collection of roughly 1.2-million artifacts, including items from Utah's Native American tribes, regional flora and fauna specimens and the state's sizable number of dinosaur fossils.

The building is composed primarily of exposed concrete with unique copper-alloy cladding. The natural patina of the copper blends with the hillside and gives the building a stratified but fractured appearance, evoking the sandstone deserts and rugged mountains of Utah.

The museum is built in steps up the hillside, with exhibits featuring Utah's geography and the history of its people, animals and plant life on different levels. The exhibit spaces are located on the south end of the building, with laboratory, storage and office space on the north end.

The two wings are connected by bridges over a three-story "canyon" that serves as a central gathering and way-finding element. Floor-to-ceiling windows span the west-facing end of the canyon, providing visitors with expansive views west to the Salt Lake Valley, the Great Salt Lake and Oquirrh Mountains, home to the Kennecott copper mine, which produced the ore for the building's cladding.

"Ecstatic is not too strong a word for how we feel about this building," says Sarah George, the museum director, who was part of the project's collaborative design team. "It is beautiful, but it also functions so well. The building we were in before was designed as a library, and there were so many things we could not do there. Now, to be in a space that is designed for us, is just wonderful."

Key Players

Owner: DFCM, Salt Lake City

Design: GSBS Architects, Salt Lake City

General Contractor: Big-D Construction, Salt Lake City

Civil Engineer: Colvin Engineering Associates Inc., Salt Lake City

Structural Engineer: Dunn Associates Inc., Salt Lake City

MEP: Spectrum Engineers, Salt Lake City

Entry submitted by Big-D Construction

Larsen is former Utah Energy Program Director

(Salt Lake City, UT – October 30, 2012)  The Utah Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has awarded its 2012 Associate's Award to Chamonix Larsen, an architecture intern with GSBS Architects, Salt Lake City.   Ms. Larsen is former energy program director of the State of Utah Division of Facility and Construction Management (DFCM) for Capital Development. 

Larsen, who is a LEED-accredited professional, helped implement Utah’s High Performance Building Standards and managed renewable energy and power purchase contracts for DFCM. She also coordinated State facility energy performance benchmarking, energy policy, and integrated utility incentives into state programs.

“We are proud to award Chamonix with this year's Associate Award,” said Heather Q. Vance, Executive Director of AIA Utah. Her exceptional leadership and significant contributions to the profession during this early part of her career is exemplary.”


Photo courtesy of GSBS Architects

The Salt Lake Tribune
(Salt Lake City, UT – October 25, 2012)