Spy Hop at Kahlert Youth Media Arts Center / Atlas Architects Inc.
Text description provided by the architects. The Spy Hop Media Arts Center, located in the Central Ninth (C9) area of Salt Lake City, is part of a series of projects aimed at revitalizing the neighborhood. C9 is unique in its character; be both quaint and connected. Recently, this has increased community investment, brought in more housing, and attracted many local businesses. Spy Hop is located at the center of this development along 900 South, a booming corridor, where it serves as a community hub and visual anchor.
Spy Hop’s design is intended to serve students, support staff, and connect broadly with the C9 district. It does this by using human-scale design choices that indicate how one can engage with the building. A prominent corner atrium with iconic signage and tiered glazing serves as a beacon for students, residents, and visitors to the Ninth Center. This corner also features perforated white metal panels on the glazing system to diffuse the light into the building during the day and soften the light emanating at night. Concrete seat walls along the foundation, in addition to changes in the pattern and texture of the paving, create outdoor spaces where students, staff and the public can congregate. Large glass openings along all sides of the building create a balance of interior lighting and allow views in and out at street level. These elements, together with the materials used, create a new linguistic and pedestrian experience unique to Salt Lake City and the Wasatch front.
The palette of materials is deliberately simple; cast-in-place concrete, blue-tinted glass, white metal panels and large-scale iconic signage that enliven the streetscape. These integrate and articulate an architectural language that would be unique to the C9. Where lighting and cooling are the largest uses of energy in the building, limiting solar gain and increasing daylight has become key to design. Passive and active systems, including a large array of solar panels and an innovative HVAC system, reduce energy consumption in the building; meeting LEED Silver standards.
Floor plans are efficiently laid out, with classrooms, offices, and production spaces branching off from centralized circulation. The first floor includes production spaces; the heart being a visual recording studio from the street. The second level is perhaps the most active, all centered around a large collaborative space. The top floor is the most flexible, with ample event space and a rooftop where student work can be showcased and communities can gather.
The overall effect of the building’s design is ambitious and inspiring, as befits a place where young people find their voices, tell their stories and are empowered to make positive changes in their lives, communities and the world.