Developer unveils design for Pickle Building renovation

The historic Utah Pickle Building as seen from 400 West. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

Michael Ori, the owner of Studio Elevn a film production and creative coworking company, has released renderings and site plans for his company’s plans to redevelopment the Pickle Building and adjacent Hide Building into a 1.5-acre, energy-efficient, creative campus for the local arts community.

The Salt Lake City Office of Economic Development selected Ori’s project as its submission for the Vote Your Main Street sweepstakes.  Salt Lake City is own of 25 cities competing for a piece of a $2 million grant from the Partners in Preservation, a collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, American Express, National Geophric and Main Street America.

The Pickle building, on the 700 South block of 400 West, was constructed in 1894 by former LDS Church President Heber J. Grant.  In its 123-year history, the building has been a soap factory, a pickle and condiment factory, and most recently an arts and event space.

According to Ori, the Granary District is the ideal fit for his vision because of the neighborhood’s wealth of creative and entrepreneurial establishments like Kilby Court and Fisher Brewery, and the district’s respect for its historic character.

Site plan for the proposed Pickle Building redevelopment. Image courtesy Studio Elevn.

Ori currently runs Studio Elevn out of the 100-year old Central Building on the 400 South block of 400 West near Pioneer Park.  His company consists of two studios and a creative coworking space called Creative Commons.

By moving operations to an expanded campus in the Granary, Studio Elevn would increase its available studio, work and event space from its current 9,000 square feet downtown to 45,000 square feet in the Pickle and Hide Buildings.  In addition to the expanded studio and event space, the new campus would include gardens, a courtyard, a cafe and galleries.

CRSA Architects designed the new campus, that will be built to LEED standards.  The released renderings reveal ample courtyard and garden space surrounding the two renovated buildings.  The Pickle Building will include a green roof, or living roof, with significant portions that will be covered by vegetation.  Green roofs help lower a building’s energy costs by providing extra insulation.  The Pickle’s roof will also serve as additional outdoor space with seating and gathering areas.

The Hide building will also have green roof elements above a planned addition at the rear of the building.  Much of the Hide building’s roof will be clad in solar panels.  The roof will get a new skylight and the two-story addition will have significant amounts of transparent glazing to allow more natural light to enter the building.

Studio Elevn runs two programs designed to support and build awareness for emerging artists. The first called Inspired By is a video series of artists in the community which, according to Ori, allows artists to share their stories. The second program, Sponsor By, helps artists find financial support for individual film productions.

While much of the campus would be occupied by Studio Elevn, Ori said the project area is large enough to provide opportunities to work with additional partners.

Regardless if the project wins the grant money, Ori still plans to move forward with the redevelopment of the Pickle Building.  He will work with the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake to develop the area.  In addition, Ori has partnered with Form Development to develop the properties.  Local design and real estate firm, City Home Collective, will design the buildings’ interiors.

People can vote up to five times a day until October 31.  As of 5 pm on October 19, Salt Lake City was in 11th place out of 25 cities.

According to Partners in Preservation, the Main Streets with the most votes at the end of the voting period will be awarded grants, until the full $2 million is distributed.  The funds will first be awarded to the cities before being redistributed to the selected projects.

Aerial rendering of the proposed Pickle Building redevelopment. Image courtesy Studio Elevn.

*This is an updated version of a previous post.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at