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Wally Cooper, Salt Lake City

The Lucybeth Rampton Award was established in 1994 in honor of former First Lady Lucybeth Rampton. Mrs. Rampton was a founding member of Utah Heritage Foundation and a lifelong advocate of the preservation of Utah's architectural heritage. The Lucybeth Rampton Award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to historic preservation and whose vision and activities have significantly impacted the preservation movement in Utah.

2010's award was given to Wally Cooper and Allen Roberts. As Michael Stransky put it: "If one knows of Wally and Allen's long term commitment to one another and their commitment to architectural historic preservation, they cannot be separated any more than one could separate Ririe and Woodbury, Simon and Garfunkel, or Click and Clack." Cooper Roberts was one of the first architectural firms in Utah to direct their efforts in the area of historic preservation. Their firm's list of historically-related projects is impressive and includes many of the state's most important buildings. They are, in the words of Wilson Martin, "giants in the field...They are a state treasure of information and professionalism. They are also great guys."

Wally Cooper

Wally Cooper knew he wanted to be an architect in seventh grade. Growing up in Rose Park he took drafting class in junior high school and was inspired by the possibilities. After graduating from West High School, Wally attended the University of Utah and studied psychology. He entered the masters program in architecture and knew he would be a pioneer of the architectural psychology movement – studying humans' relationships to their spaces. Instead it was the architecture itself that called to him.
It was during his college years that Wally met, and married, his wife Martha. They graduated in 1971 and joined the Peace Corps which took them Tunisia.
Upon their return to Salt Lake Wally took a job with local architect, Stephen Baird. It was Stephen who introduced Wally to his first preservation project. Stephen owned a home in the Marmalade area that was abandoned. When he asked Wally to visit the house and make sure that it was secure, it was love at first sight. The house was a disaster and presented a "real life" project that started a movement.
In 1975 Wally got his first contract as an architect, The Perry Theater in Perry, Utah. It was a year later that he met Allen Roberts and the two began working together. They steadily amassed a reputation for authentic restoration and won contracts for several prestigious projects. Cooper Roberts was the first architecture firm in the region dedicated to the rehabilitation of historic architecture.

In the 35 years since, Cooper Roberts has complete thousands of restoration projects that range from small single family homes to Salt Lake landmarks like the Walker building. Again, in the words of Mike Stransky: “I have always admired how they collaborated to server their clients by bringing the best of each of them: Wally’s sense of the practical and Allen’s understanding of the intellectual. Allen researches and Wally executes. Allen develops the context for restoration or preservation and Wally makes it happen within the desires and budget of the client.” Another said: “Their deep devotion and love of the historic fabric of our communities has resulted in literally hundreds of buildings being saved and recovered.”

If you think of this metaphorically and compare those decrepit, forgotten, and discarded buildings as people—they have saved the equivalent of a small town: the mayor (imagine the St. George City or Park City Town Halls), the priest or bishop (picture the Brigham City Tabernacle), the busy body housemaker (the single cell Santa Anna Casto house in Holladay or the Judge Jacob Johnson House in Spring City or Wally Cooper’s own home on Quince Street in Marmalade District). Think of the legions of school children who once played in the halls of Park City’s Washington School or the Maeser School or of the high school or college students who flirted in the lobby of Old Main at Southern Utah University or South High on Salt Lake City’s State Street and the new life these new buildings embody through the careful preservation work of Cooper/Roberts Architects carrying forward for new generations the beautiful architecture of the past.

There is something immensely loving and grateful about the care they have put into this work. You think of the thousands of hours Wally Cooper and Allen Roberts have spent crawling through the attics or cellars of buildings rotting in their own filth. Measuring and assessing the life span of beams stretching across the interior of a dark and shadowy barn, or the porousness of adobe bricks crumbling from more than a century of weather and wear. Or perhaps, humbled or at least quieted bv the remarkable workmanship of a carved mantle over a hearth laid with careful tile or stonework, the place where a generation of men or women knelt when they carefully laid out a fire. Astounded by the beautiful color and exuberance of the façade of buildings like Odgen’s Egyptian Theatre or the Logan Taberacle or the Knight Block in Provo. And if this list seems to long, this is exactly the point. These two men have made a career out of caring about old buildings, of saving old buildings, of offering up for a new generations to appreciate and even to love, architecture worth saving. They are teachers in this. They are poets in this. They are crusaders in this. They inspire and search for understanding. They create something new in the old: the promise of new life. It doesn’t get any better than that. Wally Cooper and Allen Roberts are outstanding examples of professionals committed to what they love. Utah is richer, much richer, because of the exemplary contribution they have made to the preservation movement in Utah.

That is why Utah Heritage Foundation presented Wallace N. Cooper II, AIA, and Allen D. Roberts, AIA, with the Lucybeth Rampton Lifetime Achievement Award for their significant impact on historic preservation throughout the state.