Well-known designer to head U. architecture school
Prescott Muir » He champions civic responsibility.
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The University of Utah on Tuesday named one of the state's most influential architects to lead its School of Architecture. Prescott Muir, whose vision is apparent in several public buildings along the Wasatch Front, including some on the U. campus, has been an adjunct professor at the school since 1987.

"We are focused on the civic responsibility of architecture. Prescott Muir embodies those values," said Brenda Case Scheer, dean of the College of Architecture + Planning. "We were thrilled he even applied for the job."

Muir succeeds Patrick Tripeny, an architecture professor who directed the school, home to 180 graduate and undergraduate students, through a recent transition.

"Like a lot of schools of architecture, we are more focused on sustainability than in the past. We meld the practice and the theories so the students come out being good practitioners in their communities," said Scheer. "One of our values is our students will learn how to be architects from an exemplary designer."

Among Muir's designs are such cultural icons as the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City; the Pleasant Valley Library and the Ethel Wattis Kimball Visual Arts Center in Ogden; and the Bridge Project for Artspace. He also served as local architect for two major U. projects -- the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the USTAR building currently under way on the former golf course.

"Utah is a living laboratory for 'smart' design," Muir said in a statement. "There is no better place than the University of Utah to train students for the challenges of explosive growth in a way that balances innovative design of our building and our built environment with the most stunning natural landscape in the nation."

Muir has also been involved in community affairs, earning him membership in the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). A past president of AIA Utah, Muir serves on the board of governors of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, chairs the Downtown Alliance board, and leads the scenarios committee for Envision Utah.

"Prescott's strength as a designer, coupled with his years of successful practice, bring a unique outlook and essential talent to this important position," said Ken Naylor, president of AIA Utah. "His selection will, undoubtedly, strengthen the bond between the [College of Architecture + Planning] and practicing architects in our region."

bmaffly@sltrib.com