In fifty years, hopefully people will look back and say, 'Wow, what a great (design). That is so turn of the century.' —Gary McGinn, Provo's community development director
SALT LAKE CITY — As you walk down Center Street in downtown Provo, it is hard to miss the architecture of several decades on display.
There are buildings from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries standing within just a few blocks of each other, telling the design history of Utah County’s largest city.
The newest addition to the area will be the world headquarters for Nu Skin Enterprises — the Nu Skin Innovation Center. The global multilevel marketing firm is currently expanding its Utah County campus by constructing a state-of-the-art facility that will house 900 employees and bring a new landmark to downtown Provo.
While some may question the wisdom of such a modern design in the midst of landmark structures like the Provo Tabernacle, which is being renovated to become an LDS temple after it was heavily damaged in a fire in late 2010, the company said it wants to add to the city’s historic landscape.
“We want to be unique, but we don’t want to be so imposing,” said Matt Burke, Nu Skin global facilities director.
Set to be complete in October, the new center will stand only two stories high along Center Street — similar to other buildings — and will set back an additional 8 feet from the street to avoid being overwhelming, Burke said.
“We put the mass of the building in the center of our property with the front feeling like it is only a two-story building,” he said.
The goal of the design is to fall into the “flow and rhythm” of the buildings already located on Center Street, Burke said.
Designed by Seattle-based architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the nearly $100 million expansion project will include 168,000 square feet of new office and retail space, with amenities such as a data center, fitness gym, two dining facilities, meeting rooms, an auditorium, an indoor fountain and an atrium.
Burke said the company worked very closely with Provo city officials to ensure the design was within the parameters civic leaders considered adequate to preserve the area’s historic character.
“(The Nu Skin project) keeps the massing and scale of nearby buildings,” said Gary McGinn, Provo's community development director.
McGinn said the new facility was being designed to be sensitive to the character of the downtown area.
“You don’t want to make it 'faux history' and build something that is a replica of something that would have been built in 1890 when it is really not a 19th century building,” McGinn said.
The company is building the landmark of tomorrow, he said.
“In fifty years, hopefully people will look back and say, 'Wow, what a great (design). That is so turn of the century,'" McGinn said.18 comments on this story
If you build something today, it should be a design of today, he said. However, there should also be some harmony included in the design that allows the new construction to fit in with the already existing structures, he added.
“They want it to be modern, but yet respect being in the historic downtown district,” Burke said.