See 29 photos, 1 video of latest Temple Square renovation efforts, from rooftop trusses to underground excavation

From the rooftop of the Salt Lake Temple to excavations 85 feet underground and over to concrete work on the Church Office Building Plaza, the Temple Square renovation project in Salt Lake City is now in its 20th month.

Below are three photo galleries and brief descriptions in an August 2021 update of efforts over the past several months in the yearslong project.

Highlights are three current endeavors — reinforcement of the Salt Lake Temple roof, continued renovation of the Church Office Building Plaza and ongoing excavation to the north side of the temple.

The latest update on Wednesday, Aug. 18, on Newsroom also included a video of recent efforts and progress.

“High-profile jobs like this that are centerpieces for organizations — and especially organizations that do as much good as this Church does across the entire world — are just some of my favorite projects to be on,” said Errold Tuley, a Jacobsen Construction general foreman working on the plaza renovation, to Newsroom.

“When this project is finished, it is going to be spectacular. The site work that is on this project is just incredible. The design work that went into it, the craftsmanship that is going to go into it, the research and this going into every single little piece of this is just intense, and it’s just going to be beautiful.”

Roof reinforcement

“The roof structure is so critical for this project,” said Josh Fajardo, a superintendent with Jacobsen Construction Co. “You have all the historic finishes inside the building that you’re trying to preserve. And starting from the top down, you need to have that good support and protection.”

Beginning in May, crews started adding replacement steel trusses to the temple roof as part of the seismic reinforcement of the edifice, with the purposeful one-by-one placement of the new trusses done to control exposure of the existing roof.

On a typical project, workers would open up the entire structure and do all the new trusses at the same time, Fajardo said. “But because we have historic finishes that are remaining inside the temple that have to be protected, we have to do it one at a time.”

Each truss measures 35,000 pounds, or 15 metric tons, and 90 feet in length (27.4 meters). Cross-bracing is installed to help provide lateral support.

Rather than welding the trusses in place and risk fire hazards to the temple and its historic finishes, gusset brackets, nuts and bolts are used instead to secure the steel structures.

Besides providing a sturdy framework to the temple and assisting in the seismic stabilization, the trusses also help reinforce the attic, where new mechanical equipment — including large heating and cooling units — is being installed.

Plaza repairs

With the Church Office Building Plaza closed since February 2021 for upgrades, crews currently are repairing damaged concrete that has delaminated after years of leaking water.

Repair work is being done on strips that are 12 feet wide, with the surface concrete ground down 2.5 inches deep and then filled with a special concrete mix that adheres to the remaining concrete.

The plaza will then be waterproofed to prevent leaking in the underground parking garage directly before.

Water damage and leaking isn’t the only concern with the repairs. Because the plaza dates back to the 1960s, all the waterproofing used then contains asbestos, said Paul Shingleton, a Jacobsen project manager of the plaza renovation.

“And so in part of the removal process, we had to use a special company to remove all of the asbestos-laden waterproofing from the top of the roof deck,” Shingleton said. “They come in with a floor scrubber, and they scrub it all off and scrape it down right down to the concrete. It’s a removal of all of the black tar material that has to be put away in some special white Tyvek bags and taken to a special location that accepts that type of material.”

Upon completion of the repairs and renovations, new landscaping will enhance the view of the Salt Lake Temple across the Church Office Building Plaza, Shingleton said. “If you’re standing on State Street, looking [west] toward the temple, the design will direct your vision right to the temple.”

Ongoing excavation

Already having reached 65 feet below street level on the north side of the Salt Lake Temple, excavation will continued to a depth of 20 additional feet — for a total of 85 feet — before construction begins on the three-level underground north addition.

That addition will include facilities such as the two baptismal fonts, additional sealing rooms, dressing rooms and administrative offices.

A secant wall — which is comprised of rows of interlocking concrete and steel columns — shores up the temple foundation for excavation. Beams — known as walers — that are attached to the wall keep soil in place as long tension cables are fastened deep into the earth with grout.

A recently completed, 128-foot-long access tunnel, which runs underneath North Temple Street, will connect the Conference Center with the Salt Lake Temple.