Highlights: College of Mines & Earth Sciences

By far, the most dynamic, impactful and transformative gift to the College of Mines and Earth Sciences in general and the Department of Geology and Geophysics in particular, was made by Rev. Marta Sutton Weeks Wulf. The Department of Geology and Geophysics had outgrown its space in the Browning and Mines Building and was in need of space for faculty, administration, research and students.

Along came Rev. Marta Sutton Weeks Wulf, the daughter of Frederick Albert Sutton, BS'17, who wished to honor her father by funding a geology building to be constructed in his memory. Through her generosity, the Frederick Albert Sutton Building was constructed, adjacent and connected to the Browning Building. The $27 million structure was made possible by the more than $12 million in gifts Rev. Weeks made to the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

An Episcopalian minister, Marta was born in 1930 in Argentina, spending her early school years in Holladay, Utah and Maracaibo, Venezuela, later graduating from St. Mary-of-the-Wasatch High School in Salt Lake City. During her summers as a college student, she worked in Caracas, Venezuela, teaching English and later receiving a baccalaureate degree in political science from Stanford University. In 1951, she married Lewis Austin Weeks and eventually served as director of Weeks Petroleum Ltd., a company begun by her father-in-law, Lewis G. Weeks. She completed her education by earning a masters degree in theology and was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1992. Her ministry took her to Panama, the Bahamas, Paris, and back to Utah and Florida. For two summers, she planted, harvested and delivered several tons of vegetables to a Salt Lake City soup kitchen to help the homeless.

Her father, an engineer whose passion was geology, led a life worthy of Indiana Jones. The family had lived in Argentina and Chile, and was separated for many years while Sutton rode burros and camels through the mud and dust of Bolivia, Tibet, and Mongolia in search of oil.

The Dean of the College of Mines and Earth Sciences, Frank Brown, oversaw the entire building project, which included design, construction and fundraising. Several members of the faculty assisted Dean Brown, but his primary support came fromthe chair of the Department of Geology and Geophysics, Marjorie Chan. Marjorie, was responsible for the embellishments to the building, which give the structure a uniquely geologic, museum-like quality.

The architectural firm of Brixen & Christopher and Coopers Roberts Simonsen was hired to design the 91,000-square-foot, four-story building that was constructed to house the University of Utah Seismograph Stations (UUSS). During the planning stage, the steering committee addressed concerns about sustainability and decided to pave a new path for the University by securing LEED certification.

Brown went to Weeks to ask for her support to achieve LEED certification. Weeks' response? "That's what I had hoped for all along." In fact, she encouraged him to seek gold level certification, the second most difficult of the three levels.

Because of the foresight of those involved in planning and the generosity of Rev. Weeks, the Sutton Building sets a new standard on the campus of the University of Utah. According to the Utah Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, the Sutton Building, "is serving as the University's icon for ‘Green building design.' " As well as setting a new university standard, the building has dramatically impacted the Department of Geology and Geophysics, with significant increases in enrollment and greater outreach to the community.