Lorenzo Snow Young architectural drawings of the J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Library
Scope and Contents
- Young, Lorenzo Snow, 1894-1968 (Creator, Person)
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Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish material from Lorenzo Snow Young architectural drawings of the J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Library must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the Special Collections Board of Curators.
Bing was born in Salt Lake City in 1894 to Brigham Morris Young and Celestia Armeda Snow, the ninth of their children. Apparently he was never called by his given name; his children believe he was named after the family dog. Some who did not know him except by reputation wondered if he was Chinese.
Bing's father always struggled financially, but according to Bing's brother, Gaylen, the years from 1900 to 1907 were an especially difficult period. Little is known of Bing's early life. He did leave high school without graduating and went to work at the Oregon Short Line Railroad where he became a draftsman. Although the time sequence is unclear, he later returned to Salt Lake City's LDS High School and graduated with the class of 1917 at age 22. Although he had known her earlier, it was there that he also deepened his friendship with Catherine Aleine Margetts, who was later to become his wife.
In 1918, he joined the U.S. Army as a buck private and was soon shipped to France where he served in a communications outfit as a runner. During his service he was shot through his hand. Included in his papers are letters he wrote to Aleine from France. He received his discharge papers in 1919, returned to Salt Lake City, and decided he wanted to become an architect.
In 1919, he went east to study architecture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. After completing his first year at Pratt, he returned to Salt Lake and on September 17, 1920, he married Aleine. The two of them returned to Brooklyn where he finished his second year at Pratt. After graduation, he spent a summer at Columbia taking additional architecture classes. He next enrolled in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania to study under Paul Cret, who had been responsible for designing many of the beaux arts buildings in Washington, D.C. Two years later, Bing graduated with honors and was one of two students invited into the T-Square Club in Philadelphia.
Bing initially practiced architecture in Philadelphia. In 1924, the couple returned to Utah to make their home. He was employed as an architect by the LDS Church, but found that not to his liking. The head of the architectural office at that time was Col. Willard Young, of whom Bing said in his oral interview, to paraphrase, that he probably knew a lot about military service but nothing much about architecture. Also in the office was Joseph Don Carlos Young Jr. son of Joseph Don Carlos, Bing's second cousin, and also a grandson of Brigham Young; the Hansen was Ramm Hansen.
Within a few years Bing entered into practice with Edward O. Anderson. Together, they received their first large commission: to design Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus. Success was initially short lived because of the Depression. However, during the 1930s several commissions came their way and the firm Anderson and Young continued until 1937, when Anderson left. In 1936, Arnold Ehlers joined the firm and continued with Bing until 1953.
By 1934, Bing and Aleine's family was complete. Dick and Renee, the two oldest, were born in the early 1920s; Janet in 1929; and Bob in 1934. By 1937 the family was living in a home designed by Bing and located at 1608 Michigan Avenue. This was a Tudor-style home, at one time featured in Better Homes and Gardens, and was where Bing and Aleine spent the rest of their married lives.
In the late 1930s, the LDS Church formed a committee of six prominent Mormon architects, the Temple Board of Architects, who were to be responsible for designing two new temples--one in Los Angeles and one in Arizona. It was undoubtedly an honor to be on the board, but it turned into an exercise in frustration both for the architects and the First Presidency of the LDS Church--no one could agree on the design work. While on board, Bing continued to design a number of chapels for the church.
During the 1940s, because of World War II, there was little construction. Bing joined the army in 1943 and served until 1946. He was stationed at Utah's Fort Douglas, where he spent time inspecting government buildings. Later he was in charge of the western region of the country while determining for the government the costs of converting military buildings from war time to civilian uses. In 1946, he resumed his professional practice.
During the late 1940s, Bing became embroiled in a disagreement with the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), a group for which he had been president in the 1930s. He had been commissioned by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (DUP) to design their museum in Salt Lake located at the top of Main Street just West of the State Capitol. Rather than doing a contemporary design, he designed a replica of the old Salt Lake Theatre razed almost twenty years before, a demolition that had been protested by the ladies of the DUP. Therefore, the replica seemed fitting for the group, but not in the eyes of many of his professional peers, who thought that in the new era following World War II, important public buildings should be contemporary in design. At that time he resigned his membership in the AIA but the letters later appear as part of his professional title.
In the 1950s, his firm designed a number of homes, schools, and commercial buildings. The firm grew during this decade and many architects who went on to head their own firms worked for Bing. According to Richard Jackson, an architect and historian of the Salt Lake City architectural scene, "people liked to work in his office because of the excellent training to be received and the wide variety of work to be done. When you worked for Bing you worked very hard indeed." He worked the week around, even on Sundays. According to the family members, he loved the practice of architecture and, as a perfectionist, no effort would be spared in making sure all projects were completed correctly.
During the 1950s and 1960s, there were fewer direct commissions for LDS Church chapels, but Bing did receive commissions for two large projects at Brigham Young University: the J. Rueben Clark Library (later renamed in honor of Harold B. Lee) and some campus residence halls. He was asked to design his own LDS Church ward house, the Bonneville Stake Center. The style of the center was colonial revival, of which Richard Jackson stated, "he was a master." Many large projects came to the firm in the 1960s, including the College of Law, the J. Willard Marriott Library, and the Special Events Center at the University of Utah; just prior to his death, the design of the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University was also under contract to the firm.
During the 1950s, he and Aleine began traveling. Renee, the oldest daughter, had married Lowell Christensen from Honolulu, so there were many trips to Hawaii. Bing was a member of the LDS Church's Mormon Tabernacle Choir for nineteen years, so they also traveled to Europe with the Choir in the 1950s. Aleine, a member of the General Board of the Relief Society for the LDS Church, often was assigned to speak at regional conferences in the United States and other countries. When Bing could leave, he would often accompany her on these trips. Closer to home, the couple made frequent trips to Salmon, Idaho, where Dick, the oldest son who had by now married Barbara Weaver, was practicing dentistry.
Janet had married Douglas Denkers. After first living in Salt Lake for a few years, the Denkers moved to England, which they found much to their liking and where they stayed until after Bing's death in 1968. So, Bing and Aleine also visited the Denkers. Doug, an architect, had worked with Bing and it was expected that he would eventually take over the firm, but that did not happen. Bob, who married Nancy Valentine, was the only child in Salt Lake in the 1960s and 1970s. He was in the advertising business and later managed a radio station before opening his own insurance agency.
In the 1960s, when it became clear that Doug would be not returning to the firm, a partnership was formed with Bob Fowler and Shirl Cornwall. From 1961 through 1964, the firm was Lorenzo S. Young and Partners. In 1965, the firm was titled Young and Fowler Associates. In 1968, the partnership agreement between Bing and Bob had expired but no new agreement was signed. Bing died unexpectedly in March 1968 and his firm expired with him. A succeeding firm, headed by Bob Fowler, FFKR, went on to complete projects begun during Bing's lifetime, such as the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University. FFKR became one of the leading architectural firms in Utah, to some extent a legacy of the work of Lorenzo Snow Young.
Bing was a gregarious person who belonged to many organizations. He took up golf the last few years of his life. His son Bob despaired of playing with his father and friends because they had their own score keeping system which would have never been sanctioned by the Professional Golf Association. As a very young man, he was a skier and, until the late 1950s, had walked to work from his home on Salt Lake's east bench to the Continental Bank Building in downtown Salt Lake. In 1967, he began to experience back problems, accompanied by significant pain and an inability to stand erect. In order to try to correct the condition, he went to Hawaii for an operation. Unfortunately, he died as a result of some of the post-operative procedures.
Bing Young designed somewhere between 500 and 700 buildings and took a leadership role in many professional and civic organizations. His personal life was full with his family and their activities, a host of friends, membership in many organizations, and his church callings. He was very proud of the fact that both his grandfathers had been presidents of the LDS Church and he remained faithful to his Mormon Heritage.
1 oversize folder (1 linear ft.)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Register of the Lorenzo Snow Young architectural drawings of the J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Library
- J. Gordon Daines III
- 2011 January 31
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English in Latin script.