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Updates announced for Salt Lake Temple renovation project

Original estimate of 2024 altered due to temple’s condition, decisions to make additions to the project

Workers remove and catalogue stone for repair and restoration on the eastern towers and walls of the Salt Lake Temple.
Workers are removing and cataloging stone from the eastern towers and walls of the Salt Lake Temple as part of a process of repairs and restoration seen in this image taken from the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City in December 2021.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The renovation of the Salt Lake Temple will take a year longer to complete than originally anticipated, according to a statement released Monday by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Initial estimates by church officials were that the project to strengthen the foundations of the iconic temple at the center of historic Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, would take until 2024. The project began in late December 2019.

The First Presidency issued a new estimate that the work would be completed in 2025 because of additions it has made to the project and the need for more work than originally anticipated.

Here is Monday’s full statement:

The seismic strengthening of the Salt Lake Temple and the extensive remodel of the temple and surrounding area are sacred and significant undertakings. As the project has progressed, we have learned a great deal about the condition of the temple and its surroundings. The work is truly remarkable and is being guided by the First Presidency. Inspired modifications and additions to the project and scope have been made so the temple and Temple Square can serve many generations yet to come. It is anticipated that the temple and its surroundings will be completed in 2025. We look forward to welcoming the world at that time to visit, tour and learn about this sacred temple and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Originally built over 40 years and completed in 1893, the Salt Lake Temple’s foundation will soon be undergirded by a seismic strengthening system called base isolation.

Temple Square is an official National Historic Landmark and a tremendous tourist attraction, drawing 3 million to 5 million visitors annually, according to visitsaltlake.com. Much of the square is under construction now, but visitors are still welcome at the Tabernacle and across the street at the Conference Center, which is serving as a visitors’ center. Visitors can view the construction and renovation work from the Conference Center’s upper levels.

A larger project to remodel Temple Square is also underway. The Church Office Building Plaza fountains have been removed and crews are preparing the way for flagpoles that will bear flags of the nations of the world.

The styrofoam blocks now being installed on the plaza are spacers. They will be covered with topsoil for landscaping. The use of the styrofoam reduces the amount of soil and therefore the weight that must be borne by the concrete deck that had been damaged and leaking water into a parking garage while the fountains were in use.

Renovation work this month has focused on four main areas:

Removing stone from the towers

Scaffolding around the temple’s towers is being used by crews who are carefully removing and cataloguing stones from the east towers and walls for repair and restoration.

Workers removed the Angel Moroni statue in May 2020 and placed it in storage until the seismic upgrades are complete.

The north addition

Crews have laid concrete over more than half of the area for the planned north addition to the temple. The foundation for the new floors will be laid on top of that concrete. An additional concrete pour, the largest to date, will take place this week, when workers will pour 1,800 cubic yards of concrete that will form the first quarter of what will be a 42-inch-thick bottom floor for the addition. The pour will take eight to 10 hours using three concrete pump machines in a continuous pour.

Drilling down through the towers

One of the new processes underway in the renovation is a project to drill vertical holes down through the columns in the temple’s towers and walls. The initial drilling began in the north wall near the northwest tower. After the holes are drilled, workers will insert post-tension cables that will be anchored into the foundation 80 feet below.

Workers use a drill on the roof of the Salt Lake Temple to drill inside tower and wall columns to prepare for tension cables.
Workers use one of two drills positioned on the roof of the Salt Lake Temple to drill inside tower and wall columns in Salt Lake City, Utah, in December 2021. When the drilling is done, crews will insert post-tension cables that will be anchored into the foundation 80 feet below.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Inserting pipes under the temple

One term to learn about the renovation process is “jack and bore.” The jack and bore process has been underway for months now. The goal is to seismically strengthen the temple by inserting large pipes under the existing temple footings and foundation, reinforce them with steel and fill them with structural concrete.

Workers are digging half the space for the pipes by hand and half using large green augurs.

The temple’s original construction was much slower. In fact, after the first 14 years, no work had been completed above ground on a temple that now soars to 223 feet with the Angel Moroni statue atop its tallest spire.