Monday, March 9, 2009

Victorian Society in America Preservation Award

I am excited to announce that the Capitol Preservation Project has been awarded The Victorian Society in America's (VSA) Preservation Award for 2009. The VSA's Preservation Awards Program was created to honor projects of outstanding merit in the preservation or restoration of significant artifacts of Victorian material culture. The VSA will publicize its awards through a press release and on its website in the near future. To learn more about the VSA visit their website by clicking here.

The Capitol's rich and important history began just as the twentieth century was just getting underway. Plans for the building of Utah's Capitol began when the Capitol Commission contracted with the Olmsted Brother’s, one of the most famous landscape architectural firms in American history. John C. Olmsted, son of Fredrick Law Olmsted, the renowned designer of Central Park, created the initial plans for Capitol Hill’s landscape. His plans were later modified by the Capitol’s architect Richard K.A. Kletting. Due to a number of challenges, elements of their original plans were not incorporated into the final construction. For example, the beautiful oval pathway that circumscribes the campus was a central part of Olmsted’s plan. Today the path is lined with hundreds of Yoshino cherry trees and connects major monuments around the complex, providing the way for a scenic and informative walk or jog. Furthermore, two office buildings for the State Legislature were built to flank the Capitol and State Office Building. As a result, space was created for an alluring square plaza. These buildings and the classical plaza between them were an important aspect of the plans drawn by Kletting which did not see completion initially.

Olmsted’s and Kletting’s ideas were heavily influenced by the City Beautiful Movement which drew heavily from Frederick Olmsted’s ideas exhibited in the Columbian Exposition of 1890. These elements were reincorporated into the Master Plan for the restoration of the Capitol and its grounds. Utah’s Capitol Hill now appears remarkably close to what its original designers intended. Their ideas, born at the turn of the century, were resurrected by the Capitol’s modern architects and their magnificent reification was made possible by hundreds of skilled craftsman. Moreover, many of their ideas provided solutions to modern problems.

The Capitol Preservation Board is honored to have received this distinguished award. This award, along with many that have preceded it, was made possible by the numberless hours of hardwork, planning, and craftsmanship contributed by everyone involved in the project.

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