exterior view of the Salt Lake City building's serrated facade and graphic treatment

Mya Adds Housing and a Sense of Place to Salt Lake City

The live-work-play building with an iconic flamingo graphic was designed by Eskew Dumez Ripple for Salt Lake City’s burgeoning creative class.

Utah is among the fastest-growing states in the nation, and Salt Lake City, its capital, has become a destination for millennials with young families who are drawn to its high quality of life and relatively low costs. But if that growth is not properly planned for, it can put intense pressure on a city’s downtown. For Salt Lake City, the need for more housing and sense of place along a new light-rail corridor led to Mya, a colorful mixed-use project that gives a jolt to its Central City neighborhood. 

exterior view of the Salt Lake City building's street-facing side
The flamingo that adorns Mya’s facade is more than a flight of fancy. It’s an homage to Pink Floyd, an actual flamingo that escaped Salt Lake City’s Tracy Aviary in 1988 and lived in the Great Salt Lake until 2005. COURTESY TIM HURSLEY

“Mya is about placemaking,” says José Alvarez, principal and project manager at Eskew Dumez Ripple (EDR). His firm was brought on when the Domain Companies and the Giv Group, the project’s developers, were awarded an RFP from the city to develop affordable housing downtown. The project is a four-story, 127,000-square-foot space that combines residences and amenities tailored to the needs of the city’s new denizens. 

On Mya’s ground level are parking and a fitness center. Above that is The Shop, with 30,000 square feet of coworking space and conference rooms, as well as a rooftop deck, and amenities to fuel aspiring entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

“We definitely wanted a space that felt like it was not commercial—‘resimercial’ is the term we use,” says Jill Traylor, principal and director of interior design at EDR, who adds that the design also draws on hospitality elements for softness.

people sitting a rooftop deck
woman walking on a staircase
Large windows connect Mya’s interiors with its location in the booming Central City neighborhood of Salt Lake City. COURTESY AUSTIN DIAMOND

EDR embraced the challenge of the long, narrow site, curved at its southern end, with geometry. “We used the site to inform the shape of the building—it goes from north to south and from commercial to residential,” says Chris Papamichael, co-chief executive officer at the Domain Companies. “You can see how it breaks up the massing along the way, and how we used the shape of the street and followed that curve.”

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The serrated edges are a response to the city’s rejection of a long, monotonous building. “That gave us the opportunity for the saw-tooth pattern,” says Hussein Alayyan, project architect on Mya. “It worked for planning the units, but also gives the building a dynamic quality from the outside.”

The interior reflects the geometry outside: The sawtooth pattern on the rear facade of the building’s residential portion shades the windows and enables a double-loaded corridor. “That helps break it up and allows natural light in,” Papamichael says.

Its 126 micro-units—all currently rented—range in size from 180 to 450 square feet. Eighty units are income-restricted affordable housing. The remaining apartments are not income restricted, but are still priced affordably. 

Selected Sources


• Design Architect: Eskew Dumez Ripple

• Interiors: Eskew Dumez Ripple, Farouki Farouki 

• Developers: The Domain Companies, Giv Group 

• Engineers: Fortis Structural, PVE Inc., AWA 


• Bath fittings: Moen, Kohler, Proflo

• Bath surfaces: DuPont Corian, Quartzforms

• Ceilings: Armstrong, FilzFelt, 9Wood

• Flooring: Milliken, Ecore, Tarkett

• Furniture: Knoll, District Eight, DARRAN, Four Hands, Muuto, Roost, Bernhardt,

• Kitchen products: Summit, GE, Monogram

• Kitchen surfaces: Caesarstone, DuPont Corian

• Lighting: Lambert & Fils, Barbican, Allied Maker, Workstead, Muuto, Apparatus Studio, Prescolite, WAC, Liton, FLOS, Hennepin Made, Venture Lighting, Lumax, Hubbell

• Paint: Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams

• Textiles and upholsteries: Maharam, Arc-Com, Masland, Marc Phillips

• Wall finishes: Tretford, Offecct, FilzFelt, Zoffany, Koroseal, Daltile, American Olean


• Cladding: Alucoil

• Doors: Curries, Assa Abloy, Lynden 

• Windows: Manko Window Systems, VPI Quality Windows

interior of micro apartment unit bedroom in Salt Lake City
interior of micro apartment unit living room in Salt Lake City
Forty of Mya’s 126 apartments are reserved for households earning less than 40 percent of the area median income, while another 40 are reserved for those earning less than 80 percent. The remainder are not income restricted, but are priced modestly, which is an appealing proposition in increasingly expensive Salt Lake City. COURTESY KELLY MARSHALL

Mya’s plain corrugated cladding was an invitation to add some visual interest with a mural by Philadelphia-based artist Philip Adams. “The client was smart to select an artist whose graphics relate back to the mountains,” Alvarez says. 

When the EDR team first got to Salt Lake City, they quickly realized they’d be addressing the challenges of a booming economy with an abundance of newcomers, but their building site lacked a key urban amenity: walkability. Even though Mya’s doglegged site is located along the new TRAX light-rail line, like most of downtown, the area wasn’t really oriented toward walking and transit. “When we visited the site, it was not pedestrian-friendly; Salt Lake City is a car city,” Alvarez says. The design team’s response was to activate the length of the building for foot traffic, creating activity and interest. 

On Mya’s east side, they added a pocket park, a portal, and a breezeway, all at ground level, hoping that new construction and future development in that direction will connect to their mixed-use hub. Alvarez explains that the opening will be a point of entry for both Mya and whatever its new neighbors may be. 

Like the rest of the building, these features are designed at the human scale, helping to densify and pedestrianize the rapidly changing neighborhood. 

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