Brigham Young University announced plans Jan. 30 to replace the Joseph Smith Memorial Building with a new structure that will be more efficient and accessible, comply with earthquake and building codes, and better serve the needs of the campus.
The new structure will be dedicated as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and be situated on the same site as the existing building at the south edge of campus.The existing building, dedicated in 1941, will be used the remainder of this school year and the 1989-1990 school year, officials said. The building will then be razed, with construction on the new facility tentatively planned to begin during the summer of 1990 and be ready for occupancy for fall semester of 1991.
BYU had hoped to refurbish the existing building, as it has done with the Maeser, Grant and Brimhall buildings in recent years. But design limitations, safety factors, utility problems and other obstacles made such a project impossible.
Careful study showed a new structure will provide more efficient use of space.
"The Joseph Smith Memorial Building, which serves as the center for our Religious Education and larger General Education classes, is one of the most heavily used buildings on campus, yet it is perhaps the least efficient in utilization of floor space and internal accessibility," said Jeffrey R. Holland, president of BYU.
"Its history of accommodation to changing campus needs and of unintegrated structural additions has left the Joseph Smith Memorial Building a hopeless array of awkwardly arranged wings, levels and stairways," he said.
Norman W. Faldmo, BYU director of Planning and Construction, said the building cannot be heated or cooled uniformly, staircases are inadequate and a person cannot get from the second floor in one part of the building to the second floor in the other without going downstairs. The building also has limited access and no elevator for the handicapped, and does not meet the requirements of modern seismic and building codes, he said.
Dr. Robert J. Matthews, dean of Religious Education, said the Joseph Smith Memorial Building has been remodeled so many times that its original character has been almost completely lost.
He said the building's age and design have made it difficult to use effectively for religious and general education. The new building will be much more efficient and will be designed specifically to provide classrooms, conference areas, an auditorium and offices for BYU's Religious Education curriculum.