Salt Lake cathedral receives architectural recognition

Friday, Dec. 03, 2021
Salt Lake cathedral receives architectural recognition + Enlarge
The Cathedral of the Madeleine, which was constructed in 1909 and is registered as an historic site, was named one of Utah's favorite religious buildings in a poll by the American Institute of Architects Utah Chapter.
By Linda Petersen
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — The Cathedral of the Madeleine has been named one of Utah’s favorite religious buildings. The recognition was given by the American Institute of Architects Utah Chapter after the voting for its Best Buildings Poll.

Father Martin Diaz, the cathedral rector, was not surprised by the award.

“It’s my favorite building too,” he said. “It’s a unique building; it’s from a different century and it has held up very nicely. It looks beautiful on the inside. I think it has a real charm to it. It’s very functional in the modern day, but it’s not a modern building in that sense.”

The Best Buildings Poll recognized 10 iconic Utah building projects. The poll was commissioned to help mark the organization’s 100th anniversary. Steve Cornell, the former historical architect for the Utah Department of Cultural & Community Engagement, developed the list of 100 potential favorites that were included in the poll.

AIA Utah reached out to its members and also gathered input from the public through social media to determine the favorites. More than 400 responses were collected from architects, designers and the public to select winners in 10 different categories from more than 100 candidates. Sixty percent of the respondents were in the architectural industry, 40 percent were general public.

The other “favorites” categories in the poll were rural building, home, cultural and civic building, “strange” building, K-12 education building, green building, high-rise building, higher education building and sports venue.

In its category, the cathedral went up against several other Utah religious buildings: the Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake Tabernacle, Manti Temple, St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, Box Elder Stake Tabernacle, Logan Temple, Logan Tabernacle, Shri Shri Radha Krishna Temple and Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Assumption.

The Cathedral of the Madeleine was constructed in 1909. Built in a style known as Transition, it features Gothic and Romanesque elements. For the interior of the cathedral, the Right Rev. Joseph S. Glass, second Bishop of Salt Lake City, commissioned artist Felix Lieftuchter to paint the stunning murals which grace it today.

The cathedral has undergone several changes over the years, including a two-year renovation project in the early 1990s that included a seismic retrofitting, an interior reconfiguration that moved the altar forward and installed an immersion baptismal font, and extensive cleaning. It was rededicated on Feb. 21, 1993. The cathedral is listed on the Utah Register of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places.

The American Institute of Architects has worked “to advance our nation’s quality of life and protect the public’s health, safety and welfare,” for more than 160 years, according to its website. It has more than 200 chapters in the U.S. and abroad.

The organization will send Fr. Diaz a document to certify the honor.

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