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Revisiting 2022’s highlights so far of Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square renovation project

The Salt Lake Temple’s north addition and south-end guest building are taking shape, with Temple Square plazas getting extreme makeovers

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The Conference Center and Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News


Revisiting 2022’s highlights so far of Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square renovation project

The Salt Lake Temple’s north addition and south-end guest building are taking shape, with Temple Square plazas getting extreme makeovers

merlin_2939743.jpg

The Conference Center and Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

With the Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square renovation and seismic-upgrade project marking its two-year anniversary earlier this year, 2022 has seen considerable — and visible — construction and expansion, not just predominant decommission, demolition and removal efforts of the first two years in and around the temple.

The decommission of the temple included the removal of furniture, lights and carpeting inside, while outside demolition of the old temple annex prepared for the massive 65-foot-deep excavation on the temple’s north side for the new three-story addition.

The 2022 highlights have included preparing for and beginning new construction of the north annex, the new guest building and pavilions, and the jack-and-bore processes used in strengthening of the temple foundation and seismic upgrades.

For the seismic upgrades, the temple is first tied together — stones, towers and roof trusses. The base isolation system then creates a separation from the earth, allowing the ground to move but not the building.

Below are some of the project’s highlights, efforts and areas so far in 2022.

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Renovation crews excavate in front of the east towers of the Salt Lake Temple in preparation for a concrete pad that will support equipment necessary in the jack-and-bore process, Salt Lake City, January 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Jack and bore

With the use of reinforced steel tubes, the jack-and-bore process is key to the seismic upgrade of the temple, suspending the 187 million-pound building while crews excavate 20 feet below its nearly 170-year-old foundation in downtown Salt Lake City.

And the result is a new foundation to give strength, stability and mobility to the temple during an earthquake. The planning is high-tech, but the digging under the foundation is tedious — done by hand, an inch at a time, moving in and out of 4-foot-diameter steel pipes.

Jacking is the pushing of the pipe into place with hydraulic rams, and boring is the digging — usually done with large augers. However, because of the large rocks being found in the foundation and the need for precision, the boring is being done by hand — hand-measured, hand-dug and then laser-confirmed.

For the Salt Lake Temple project, the jack and bore will place 96 pipes ranging from 20 to 40 feet in length under the temple. The pipes join the cables, rods, trusses and transfer bases and are tied to the spires, roof and building so the temple moves as a solid structure in an earthquake.

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The addition of three floors of new temple space begins to take shape during the Salt Lake Temple renovation project, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

North addition

Excavation north of the temple for the addition on that side went 30 feet beyond the depth of the since-removed old annex, with the excavation on other sides of the temple to help further stabilization efforts.

Large concrete pours were common on the north side — first for the foundation for the three-level addition, then for the installation of walls and columns to support the upper floors. By May, the pours had started for the addition’s floors.

The new addition will house baptistries, sealing rooms, dressing rooms, administrative offices and more.

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A rendering shows the completed pavilions as part of the Temple Square renovation project in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

South, north visitors’ centers

Gone are the visitors’ centers on either side of Temple Square proper, as 2022 saw demolition and removal of the north center and the completion of the demolition and excavation of its south counterpart. And not only gone are the structures themselves but the “visitors’ centers” labels as well.

With excavation recently completed on the south center, crews are beginning to erect the new multilevel guest building and above-ground pavilions planned there. Together, they will provide visitors with an experience to help understand Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness, the role of the Savior Jesus Christ in that plan, the purposes of temples to unite families for eternity and the importance of families as society’s foundation.

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One of the latest renderings of the renovations planned for Temple Square and the Main Street Plaza in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Offering direct, unobstructed views of the temple from its south side, the pavilions will be connected by the guest building’s large underground exhibit and restrooms. The lower level will feature an ongoing temple open-house experience, including replicas of sacred ordinance rooms found in the temple, such as a baptismal font and instruction, sealing and celestial rooms.

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This photo from September 2022 shows the area where the South Visitors’ Center used to stand on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the start of construction of a new multilevel guest building featuring new guest exhibits.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The upper level will house a statue of Jesus Christ and an updated cutaway scale model of the Salt Lake Temple.

In the space where the north center stood, new restroom facilities there will be used for those attending events at the nearby Tabernacle and Assembly Hall. A newly designed contemplative garden area and landscaping is being installed, with a new water well drilled there as well.

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Progress on the remodeling of the Church Office Building plaza can be seen from this August 2022 aerial view of downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, facing east. When completed the plaza will include new garden areas, walking paths and an international country flag display.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Church Office Building plaza

Work in early 2022 included the removal of damaged concrete to a depth of 2 to 2.5 inches, waterproofing repaired concrete surfaces, installing large Styrofoam blocks under landscape areas to reduce the load on the existing concrete deck.

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Bright orange conduit is installed before the concrete is poured for a new sidewalk. The heated conduit will provide snow-free walkways in the winter on Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Later, snow-melt conduits were placed where walkways were to be poured with concrete to provide snow-free access in the winter. Fountain and garden renovations have continued, with some walls near State Street featuring new stonework. Also, the plaza has received new stone pavers and stonework.

The plaza portion of the project is expected to be done as early as the end of this year.

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View from the Salt Lake Temple facing the Wasatch Mountains to the east. The Church Office Building tower and Relief Society Building can be seen on the left with the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on the right. The round flat space at the bottom marks where the reflecting pool once stood on the Main Street Plaza, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Main Street Plaza

In March, the Church published renderings of how the renovations of the Main Street Plaza — the area connecting North Temple and South Temple — will tie in with those of Temple Square proper and the east side of Church headquarters.

The plaza closed in April for extensive remodeling and refining, with existing planter areas, reflecting pool and walkways having been removed.

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The Main Street Plaza gardens, reflection pool and decorative landscaping are removed to repair and add new waterproofing to the decking that covers the underground employee parking garage as part of the Temple Square renovation project in Salt Lake City, Utah, August 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Work there includes inspecting and repairing the plaza deck, updating the waterproofing system, refurbishing the north and south entry fountains, installing a larger reflecting pool at the plaza’s center, and refreshing the landscape design to better integrate the plaza with the temple grounds and Church Office Building plaza.

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20190422 The Salt Lake Temple nearing completion with a large crowd assembled for the capstone-laying ceremony. The temple was dedicated in April 1893.

Courtesy Church History Library, Courtesy Church History Library

Salt Lake Temple — key dates

  • Announced — July 28, 1847, by President Brigham Young
  • Groundbreaking — Feb. 14, 1853, by President Young
  • Dedication — April 6, 1893, by President Wilford Woodruff
  • Original annex demolished — 1962
  • North annex formally dedicated — Oct. 23, 1967
  • Renovations announced — April 19, 2019, by President Russell M. Nelson
  • Temple closed for renovations — Dec. 29, 2019
  • Expected completion of renovations — 2025
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President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tours the renovation work at the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Quoteworthy

  • “I want to see the temple built in a manner that it will endure through the Millennium.” — President Brigham Young, during construction of the Salt Lake Temple in the second half of the 19th century
  • “We promise you that you will love the results. They will emphasize and highlight the life, ministry and mission of Jesus Christ in His desire to bless every nation, kindred, tongue and people.” — President Russell M. Nelson, announcing on April 19, 2019, the Dec. 29 closure and multiyear project to renovate the Salt Lake Temple and surrounding grounds
  • “Yes, the house of the Lord is beautiful and needs to be beautiful and needs to be done right, but it’s the beauty of the ordinances and the sacredness of what goes on in the temple that is truly important.” — Brent Roberts, managing director of the Church’s Special Projects Department, on the restoration of the Salt Lake Temple

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The Conference Center and Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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