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Salt Lake Temple Renovation Reaches Its Apex

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The sunny skies reflected the joyful mood on the construction site of the Salt Lake Temple renovation on Tuesday, February 13, 2024.

Nearly four years after the iconic spires of this house of the Lord were first removed for refurbishment, more than 800 construction team members gathered at a private event for the construction company to celebrate the placement of the final reinforcing steel pyramid atop the temple.

 

Shortly after the temple renovation began in 2020, crews carefully removed the spire stones from atop the temple for refurbishment. The exact position of each stone was mapped, catalogued, tracked and stored for cleaning to ensure a seamless return to the original spots on top of the temple. Beginning in summer 2023, reinforcing spire steel plates and the refurbished spire stones began to be added to the house of the Lord.

“It’s a joyful feeling to know that anyone can now look at the temple and say to themselves, ‘I can start to see and recognize something that is familiar to me,’” said Josh Fenn, Jacobsen Construction project executive and project director overseeing all renovation work Temple Square. “I hope people will take satisfaction in seeing more and more things that are familiar come back to them.”

The Salt Lake Temple, which took 40 years to build in the late1800s, is an iconic symbol of faith for Latter-day Saints around the world. The mere presence of houses of the Lord in communities around the globe reminds Latter-day Saints of the importance of faith in the common Father of all humanity, the need for constant improvement of the soul, the possibility of family relationships that reach beyond the grave, and the salvation that comes only through the grace of Jesus Christ.

The comprehensive renovation of the Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square is strengthening the structure against earthquakes and generally refreshing the campus.

“The spires are iconic because when people see the Salt Lake Temple, the first things they’re drawn to are the six spires rising into heaven,” said Brad Bohne, Jacobsen’s general superintendent overseeing field operations on the project. “It’s always been a big deal for our project team to protect these. Being relatively tall and skinny structures on top of a really massive, heavy building, these spires were at risk of whipping around in a big seismic event. Holding these in place has been a challenge that has taken years of planning, predictive modeling, scanning and considering what the steel needed to do to match the available space in the towers.”

The new steel supports were added with point cloud technology. This allowed each new steel member to be fabricated to the precise dimensions that were needed to maintain the same final size, shape and position that the stone structure historically had.

“Once the new steel members are anchored to the existing stone inside the spire, there is a final pyramid shaped steel section that is added to the top,” said Ryan Memmott, executive project manager for Schuff Steel, the firm that fabricated and installed the new steel. “The team can then waterproof around the steel components, and the existing stones are put back into place, each being anchored back to the steel creating one unified structure. Stone that was crafted by 19th century builders is put back onto the temple just as it was, this time with the help of 21st century steel technology that gives the spires even more strength and stability.”

The reinforcement of each of the spires with steel is only one of several comprehensive efforts that have seismically strengthened the temple’s towers. These include the addition of steel cabling in the interior of each tower — from where they tie into the base isolation system in the foundation all the way up to their highest point.

“We’re not focused on just the base,” said David Rees, senior principal with FFKR, the project’s architecture firm. “The top of the structure is also important in terms of how we secure this edifice for many years to come through any seismic events that we anticipate could happen in this region.”

Renovation of the Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square is scheduled for completion in 2026. On projects as large-scale as this one, Fenn said, milestones like the one celebrated by the team on Wednesday are valuable reminders of the long-term significance of the team’s day-to-day work.

“Countless people continue to give their heart and soul to this renovation,” Fenn said, “so seeing a big step forward like this come to fruition — it’s really touching, for all of us.”

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