29 March 2022

Brutalist Ma Bell Building

This Brutalist building at 205 E 200 South SLC was built 1969-1971 to house Mountain Bell’s growing administrative and data processing needs.

Mountain Bell data processing center, 205 E  200 South SLC. 2022.

The original configuration of the building, 1971. From Des News 1971-02-10

Mountain Bell was part of the “Ma Bell” companies originally founded by Alexander Graham Bell and then, much later, AT&T. Up until the 1983 monopoly breakup, Mountain Bell oversaw telecommunication in UT, CO, AZ, ID, MT, NM, and WY.

This building was constructed to house computer equipment used for billing, disbursements, record keeping, toll rating, accounting, and payroll. During the 1970s and 1980s, Mountain Bell was the 2nd largest employer in the state, Kennecott being the largest.

The building was designed by the architectural team Folsom and Hunt and later remodeled in the 1980s by Martin Brixen and James Christopher. 

The $7M (~$51M today) structure was originally 4 stories tall but had steel pilings to allow upward expansion to 15 stories. It was expanded in 1979 by elongating the 4th floor and adding 2 additional floors above. Notably, these additions have windows.

In 1980, Mountain Bell expanded again, building the 17-story blue-windowed office tower across the street at 250 E 200 South (250 Tower) and linked the two buildings' HVAC systems to allow the new office building to reclaim waste heat from the data processing building.

Mountain Bell fancied itself a progressive company, releasing its affirmative action plan in 1973 which essentially stated that anyone could work in any job.

Vice President Mack Lawrence later reflected that when he joined, it was a conservative company with clean-shaven faces and mandatory coat and tie. But by the 1980s the counterculture of the 1960s-1970s had gained more acceptance and beards on men and pants on women were acceptable! The company even boasted about a few male telephone operators and women installers, a field job previously closed to anyone who shouldn’t wear pants.

The last occupant of the building was CenturyLink. Thus far, the current owner plans to incorporate the existing building into a new residential building.

Overview, southwest corner, Mountain Bell building. 2022.

Overview west elevation, Mountain Bell building. 2022.

NYT advertisement of a 1971 IBM computer system

Detail of Bell logo on main doors of the Mountain Bell building, 2022.

Next post will be on the two Angelo Caravaglia sculptures.


  • Salt Lake Tribune 1968-04-18
  • Salt Lake Tribune 1970-02-22
  • Deseret News 1970-11-23
  • Salt Lake Times 1973-06-15
  • Salt Lake Tribune 1978-11-15
  • Salt Lake Tribune 1980-11-21
  • Salt Lake Tribune 1982-02-21
  • Salt Lake Tribune 1989-03-24
  • SAH-archipedia.org
  • Snowbird.com/blog


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