Utah Museum of Natural History

Project Description

Utah_Museum_1.jpgWasatch Electric provided a full range of electrical construction solutions during the construction of the Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City. 

The architecturally astounding building is built into a mountainside near the Red Butte Gardens and consists of two separate buildings at different elevations connected by a common atrium canyon.

The facility is home to an expansive collection of artifacts kept in attractive public exhibits and simultaneously provides the space and equipment necessary to support the museum’s seventeen research labs.  Utah_Museum_2.jpgAdditionally, the design features a kitchen/café, store, collection storages, explosion proof collection storage areas, enclosed offices, open offices, conference rooms, meeting rooms, two bridges, suspended concrete walkways and staircases, as well as an amazing site design which includes a portion of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

Scope of Work

The scope included all aspects of the electrical and fire alarm systems, as well as a highly advanced aspirating smoke detection system for early warning. 

Features of the electrical construction included:


  • 4,000-amp feed
  • 1,500-kW generator
  • Three automatic transfer switches
  • Eight motor control centers
  • 31 variable frequency drives
  • Three lighting control manufacturers
  • Over 35 different lighting manufacturers, including a specially designed fixture with UL certification 
  • Audio/visual (AV) and lighting control system integration for exhibits

Unique Attributes

The project involved close cooperation with other trades and extensive use of BIM modeling to help ensure that electrical systems met customer expectations for design and function. 

The coordination for electrical power was critical in order to meet the museum’s exquisite design specifications and to keep all electrical work hidden from public view in exhibit spaces.  Conduit routing was especially challenging since the project design did not include traditional enclosed chases and most walls on the exhibit side did not reach the ceiling.

Additionally, the project team worked diligently to review all requirements to reach gold LEED certification for the facility.

The aesthetic quality and architectural design of the building is also uniquely stunning. It was built stepping back into the hillside so that it could blend in with its surrounding, and the exterior is copper donated from Rio Tinto, intended to look like the mountain behind it during the spring and fall. The roof has green planting space bordering it on all sides, again allowing it to blend in with the natural landscape, and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail was incorporated into the site design to keep the trail continuous along the Wasatch Front.