Just north of Lehi, Utah, busy Interstate 15 winds like a river past a new campus for the technology giant Adobe. Situated between the highway and the steep Wasatch Mountains, with typical suburban sprawl and billboards just across the highway, the 38-acre site is in motorists' full view. With its strong form and contemporary material palette, this first phase of the campus, by the San Francisco–based design firms WRNS Studio (the core-and-shell architect) and Rapt Studio (which designed the interiors), is a bold and visible symbol for the software company. Silicon Valley–based Adobe chose Lehi for its newest facility because of its proximity to outdoor recreation and to numerous other technology companies. While employees can enjoy the mountains and nearby Utah Lake, Salt Lake City is just a 25-minute drive north on I-15.
Despite its banality, the highway is “part of the topology of the place,” says Bryan Shiles, a principal at WRNS. It is “framed and captured as part of a larger painterly notion of landscape.” This is clear in the parti sketch for the Adobe Utah Campus, which includes three long lines drawn on the site so as to embrace the valley and mimic the adjacent Wasatch Range. Those lines developed into three four-story bar-shaped buildings, each bent slightly to follow the shifting topography and fit into the rough terrain. The first completed phase of the campus comprises a 200,000-square-foot office block and a connected 80,000-square-foot amenities building. The structures hug the ground in places and in others cantilever over it, with chamfered vertical metal fins rhythmically punctuating the steel-and-glass shell above the exposed concrete base.