During the first week of June 2017, Salt Lake City will serve as the host location for the annual conference of the Vernacular Architecture Forum. The 2017 event marks the 30th anniversary of the first VAF conference in Utah, which was held in May of 1987. Dr. Thomas Carter of the University of Utah reprises his role as conference organizer. Sponsors this year include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Utah State Historical Society, the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah, the University of Utah’s College of Architecture and Planning, and the Park City Planning Department. Preservation Utah (formerly Utah Heritage Foundation) is serving as conference planners, with principal funding from the VAF, Zions Bank, and Philip G. McCarthey.  

The Salt Lake City conference highlights the process by which the vast interior of the western United States was transformed beginning in the nineteenth century into one of the world’s most distinctive regional landscapes. The story is expressed in the Two Utahs conference title, which acknowledges the central role The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also referred to as the Mormons or LDS Church, played in the place-making process, while at the same time recognizing the significant contributions of non-Mormon forces. Rather than framing the narrative within a simple Mormon/non-Mormon opposition, we break things down into a more fundamental dialogue with religious and secular forces; both Mormons and non-Mormons, and how they had to find ways of making a living and utilizing, even exploiting the region’s ample natural resources. The real duality in the landscape may be between idealism (religious utopia, Edenic nature, sustainable development) and pragmatism (individual enterprise, outdoor recreation, economic growth). Conference tours have been designed to introduce attendees to the intricacies of the region’s built environment, and to raise questions about how landscapes are constructed, maintained, contested, and changed. 

Here is detailed schedule.


Program from the previous VAF conference in Salt Lake City.

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