OLMSTED POWER PLANT
Project Confirmation Number: 86170
Entry Category INDUSTRIAL ENTRIES:
Any structure used for manufacturing operations
1018 North 1630 East
Orem, Utah 84097
Brief description of the project:
The Olmsted Power plant is one of the oldest hydroelectric plants in the western United States. The historic power plant was shut down after generating power for 111 years. A newly-constructed plant has been constructed which is twice as efficient and will supply power for over 3,000 homes each year.
Size of Building:
8,700 Square Feet
Amount of Masonry Used (include all types and number of units):
60,000 Modular Brick Units
Project completion date: June 2017
Explain the project and its unique use of masonry materials and techniques:
Situated against a steep hillside at the mouth of scenic Provo Canyon is the Olmsted Power Plant. The old power plant, which started generating power in 1904, was a marvel of its time and set the stage for the new Olmsted Power Plant, which is generating electricity from water for people on the Wasatch Front, right now.
The Olmsted Plant replaced Nunn’s Power Plant further up the river, because it could generate more power that was used for work and lighting in the mines, and later for cities. “We deliver water, and power is a byproduct of that water delivery,” said Daryl Devey, CUP manager for the Central Utah Water Conservancy District.
The plant was eventually named in honor of Fay Devaux Olmsted, an engineer from Michigan who designed the wooden flume from the Provo River diversion to the new location as well as the generating station, Devey said. The historic powerhouse, which is on the national registry of historic places, is being preserved and will eventually become a museum of hydroelectric power.
Rehabilitation of the old plant would have cost more than building the new plant, for a total of $42 million. Owned by the federal government and operated by Central Utah Water Conservancy District, the plant distributes the water to the Wasatch Front after it generates power.
“The old power plant generated about the same amount of power using four turbines. This will generate the same amount of power using two turbines. So twice as efficient,” said K.C. Shaw, chief engineer for the Central Utah Water Conservancy District. Engineers designed the new plant to emit few to no pollutants, because hydropower is a renewable power source. That saves seven or eight large truckloads of coal each day, Dewey said. “(It’s) huge for the environment to be able to have hydropower,” he said.
When we flip a light switch today, many of us are using power generated from the new Olmsted Plant. The new building is constructed of brick masonry and was designed to complement the existing historic power plant building. The architectural design adapts the turn of the century masonry details found in the surrounding historic buildings.
A darker brick was utilized for accent around all windows and doors as well as in several banding and corbeling elements around the building. This dark brick was also used to create some unique signage to the building by creating projecting letters spelling out the “OLMSTED” name. The masonry has been constructed in a very precise and neat manner which reflects the simple yet efficient design of the building.
The workmanship of the masonry highlights geometric shapes, crisp straight lines, and variations in plane which provide a timeless elegance in the building’s façade. This new 8,700 square foot facility at the mouth of Provo Canyon is a beautiful addition to the legacy of the Olmsted Power Plant as it continues to provide valuable hydropower to the community.
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