The renovation of the Frank E. Moss U.S. Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City transforms a historic landmark into a modern and resilient workplace for more than a dozen federal agencies.
Built in 1905 as a federal courthouse and U.S. post office, the building underwent major expansions in 1912 and 1932. Minor updates followed, but by 2020 the building had become largely outdated and vacant. The building’s unreinforced masonry construction and proximity to the Wasatch fault zone made it the most at-risk building within GSA’s portfolio.
HOK’s architecture and engineering team designed a “building within a building” to meet the latest Federal Earthquake Risk Management Standard. Seismic upgrades include the addition of:
- Reinforced concrete shear walls and thousands of epoxy dowels added to existing masonry walls.
- New foundations and steel collector elements were below each floor to tie together the original 1905 building with its two additions.
- New attic bracing and nonstructural bracing of new and existing walls and ceilings.
Sustainability & Wellness
The building is targeting LEED Gold certification and will use 50% less energy and 30% less water than a similar-sized building and reduces embodied carbon by 59% compared to constructing a replacement building. The adaptive reuse of the building as offices for 12 federal agencies previously housed elsewhere is expected to save the federal government up to $6 million annually in lease costs.
While Moss Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, its occupants will enjoy a modern workplace with the latest technology and space offerings. Amenities include an integrated GSA Regional Conference Center along with multiple shared work and collaboration spaces, including breakout rooms, lounges and cultural galleries. Wellness features include indoor bicycle parking, showers and lactation and well-being rooms on every floor. More than half of the restroom fixtures are now in gender-neutral or family restrooms.
The project eliminated natural gas service to the building and installed new all-electric boilers and hot water heaters to reduce the building’s carbon footprint. The addition of a separate 2500-ampere electrical service supports the 1.5 megawatt load of the new boilers and water heaters. The building also uses an active chilled-beam system to provide supplementary heating and cooling and further minimize energy use and airborne particulates.
Curated artwork and graphics highlight the building’s history and use through the decades and showcase the natural beauty of Utah. The design by HOK and Trivers meticulously preserves and celebrates the historic fabric of the building, restoring its terrazzo and marbled lobbies and corridors and wood-paneled courtrooms to their original luster.
Proof of the preservation’s quality can be found in its “No Adverse Effect” designation from the State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Moss Courthouse is the GSA’s first seismic retrofit project to achieve such distinction.