On Tuesday, July 30, the Lehi City Council was presented with an initial plan for expansion of the Hutchings Museum in Downtown Lehi. The plan was presented by Daniela Larsen, Museum Executive Director and Dave Harris, a contracted urban planner. The presentation offered three expansion options that included a “U” shape, “L” shape and straight bar design around the existing museum building. All three options included modern architecture to contrast and offer a focal point for the historic Memorial building in which the museum is currently housed. Mayor Mark Johnson commented on the contrasting design, “I actually like the modern design, I get the contrast idea, and I’ve seen it be used elsewhere very effectively.”
The idea to expand the museum comes from a desire to grow the offerings at the Hutchings Museum. “We are working on becoming an accredited museum and we need to have certain ceiling heights and other [logistical] things,” said Larsen. The proposed three-story addition would include 70,000 square feet of museum and storage space with the first-floor ceilings at 20 feet high and the second and third floors at 16 feet.
Harris provided the Council with Brooks International’s “20 Ingredients of an Outstanding Downtown,” to suggest what would be needed to create a sustainable area for Lehi. The list included things like a plan, mixed-use buildings, anchor tenants, parking, restrooms, restaurants, and year-round activities. With the expansion presented, Hutchings Museum would be a strong anchor for Lehi’s Downtown area, but the City Council acknowledged other main ingredients are missing. Councilwoman Paige Albrecht said, “I think even without this plan, we are to the point where we need to really consider a parking structure of some kind.” Albrecht’s concern about parking received agreement from the rest of the Council.
At the conclusion of the presentation, Larsen asked the Council, “Where do we go from here?” The City Council offered support for the museum expansion plans including the modern building design, with a preference for the straight bar rendering to highlight the current historic building. Mayor Johnson finished the conversation by asking Larsen and Harris to continue working with City staff on finding a downtown parking garage location.