A project for the United States Government Department of Agriculture, which took nearly four years to realize, formally opened on April 24 when officials, architects, contractors and guests gathered at the Bennett Building in Salt Lake City.
The USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation office and the US Forest Service moved into two distinctive spaces on the 6th and 7th floors, with very different features reflecting their distinctive agencies and different missions.
During the design process, GSBS Architects met with each agency, and the team came to learn and appreciate the unique missions of each: Their histories and accomplishments and their aspirations. According to Kevin Miller, president of GSBS, “Our team came away armed with all kinds of inspirational elements that are reflected in the designs of each space.”
At the dedication ceremony, Miller said, “On behalf of GSBS Architects and our team of consultants, I’d like to formally congratulate the GSA, and thank them for entrusting us with the design and execution of these new spaces for the United States Department of Agriculture.”
In the Forest Service space, for example, trees and wood are reflected in office dividers and wall coverings. Mountains and topographical maps manifest themselves in the glass. Even the carpet pattern has a deeper meaning, reflecting the trail systems maintained by the service.
In the Farm Production and Conservation space, the natural landscape colors of the aerial photography that is essential to their mission are used to designate different work zones in the office, and provide arresting artwork throughout the space. America’s rural landscapes and farming heritage come to life in walls of living plants. And photographic textures and techniques inspire carpet and furniture patterns, wall coverings and even a museum in the lobby.
Miller said their relationship with the GSA extends back for decades, and this project is particularly gratifying. He said, “Together with Jason Sielckin and our other GSA partners, we not only achieved what we think are two unique and outstanding work environments, but in the process, we also found ways to save millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars.”
He said workspaces offer the collaboration and private break-out spaces that facilitate the modern work environment, and the offices not only look great but have more natural light and better air quality.
Miller concluded, “We’re grateful to Jason and the GSA, the USDA and these two passionate office staffs for trusting us and having the vision, courage and patience to pull it off. And as we’ve seen, that doesn’t have to cost more money. Because they’re more compact and efficient, they actually can create substantial savings.”