20th Anniversary

By November 24, 2020Community, Ideas

While some people think It’s a Wonderful Life is the greatest Christmas movie of all time, at one point Warren thought it was the most depressing movie he’d ever seen. As a young architect with George Bailey-like aspirations of seeing the world, moving back to Salt Lake to tend to his father’s architectural firm while his parents served a 2-year LDS church mission to England wasn’t exactly his dream. But after Glen’s unexpected death in England, Warren found himself in George Bailey’s shoes— suitcase in hand, heading back to the bank (or in this case, the architectural firm).

If you asked Warren 20 years ago where he thought he would be in 2020, his answer would not have been Utah. After graduating from Brigham Young University, Warren studied and worked in Japan, Seattle, and Russia and saw himself in the Northwest or overseas. There was never a concrete plan to settle in Utah. As Warren explains it, “When I moved back to Salt Lake, my identity with Utah architecture was what I had inherited from Glen. I had never studied architecture here, never worked with other architects here.” After Glen passed away, “there was a big question mark as to what the culture of our firm would be, what our identity would be, and how we’d be participating in the community.” 

Warren’s travel experiences shaped his architectural identity. Warren was drawn to  “pilgrimage cities” such as Kyoto, Japan, and the Italian hilltowns of Siena and San Gimignano. His “pilgrimage buildings” include Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, Alvar Alto’s Säynätsalo Town Hall in Finland, and the premodern iconic villa, Katsura Rikyu in Kyoto. These places and spaces helped him understand the power of architecture. His father also influenced his understanding: “I grew up in it. I lived in houses that he designed, I was near schools that he built. He had a very sincere belief in the power of architecture to shape lives and communities. Glen viewed himself as a modernist; in his practice he had a certain interest in planning and public works. His interest was always to do more of that type of work.” Glen practiced architecture in Utah for over 40  years and partnered with noted residential architect Ron Molen in the early years. Glen’s portfolio included campus planning projects at Southern Utah University and Snow College.

Warren’s approach to architecture has been somewhat different. “I have an easier acceptance of the place of adaptive reuse and the relationship of preservation and new built work. I also feel that in my mind residential work wasn’t a stepping stone to commercial work. I’m attracted to residential work for the power that it is to create habitable spaces.”

After eight years in the building where Glen established his office on 300 South, Warren started looking for a new office space to accommodate the changing firm. Warren learned of a boarded up, run-down house across from Trolley Square. At the time Warren knew  little about historic regulations and districts, and zoning requirements. Most people probably would have looked at the corner of 600 South and 600 East and seen 4 parcels of land that could create a development, but Warren saw the opposite. “I saw The Little House. It was a cute little house, and over the years things had been built up around it. There was a blockface pattern that was created by the original facade of the house. It was like a smile with missing teeth around it. There was an opportunity to fix up the house.” It ended up being one of our first adaptive reuse projects, the chance to repurpose an existing building into a new use.  And so began the firm’s love affair with adaptive reuse projects.

Of course, Lloyd Architects is more than just Warren.  Lloyd Architects has grown to become a team of talented, thoughtful, problem-solving designers who share a similar passion for the built environment. And although Warren didn’t get to work around the world, the world has come to him. Over the years our team has welcomed employees and student interns from Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Poland, Brazil, Iran and Kenya; clients from Germany, Singapore, and Australia. Warren and Jennie have welcomed foster children from Thailand and Zambia into their home. So Building from Here means many things to us. It’s about taking a site, seeing its strengths, and making it more in quiet, thoughtful ways. It’s about pulling from local resources and using what we already have. And it also means growing where you’re planted, even when where you’re planted is not what you originally planned.

8 Comments

  • Nathan Sweat says:

    That’s fun to see your story. I love the transformation for the Little House. Glad to be part of projects with your team

  • Toni says:

    Somewhere in this wonderful story the University of Washington School of Architecture is missing as the alma mater of two of the main characters!

    • Warren says:

      Yes Toni,
      The UW truly is a part of that story, one that you and I were fortunate to share for a number of years 🙂 Not to mention memorizing the SEA-SLC auto commute.
      I almost don’t dare mention that our youngest, Andy Warren, is just finishing his first quarter as a Freshman at the UW. Maybe a future sequel 😉

  • Great article Warren! Interesting path that you have taken to where you are today! Congratulations!

  • First of all, It’s a Wonderful Life IS THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE OF ALL TIME. And number three on my personal list after Ghandi and Dead Poets Society. Carpe Diem, Boys (and Girls and They)!

    Second, I want to seriously commend you all on the inspiring thought leadership. Seeing any organization get deeply in touch with their “WHY’” is super inspiring.

    Third, if you have interest, I would be delighted to share with you a sneak peak of a new platform in development. It’s called Meaningsphere and its a place where anyone can find help in creating deeper meaning in their career (and life). It’s my life’s work, and I think you would appreciate seeing that you are part of an emerging movement that has the potential to uplevel humanity.

    My best regards and sincere respect,

    Jeff Westphal, President, the Lloyd Architects Fan Club

  • Warren says:

    Oh yeah Jeff,
    We have ALOT to talk about, whether its Jimmy Stewart and his awakening with zuzu’s petals, or Stephen Abrose (Nothing Like it in The World) narrative of the West via Transcontinental Railroad. I can’t wait to continue our journey together, including learning more of Meaningsphere.

    Thanks for your comments and insights!
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Warren

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