Building the Provo City Center Temple

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The Provo City Center Temple continues to undergo dramatic transformations as the historic Provo Tabernacle becomes the newest temple in Utah County.

For months, construction from the view of University Avenue seemed like it was moving slowly. However, according to Skip Tandy, the City of Provo’s commercial plans examiner, the project has moved along right on schedule. Tandy said construction crews missed very few days even during the harsh winter in order to reinforce the old tabernacle and then dig underneath it.

The exterior walls of the old tabernacle were put on stilts in April 2013 as the underground levels of the temple and surrounding parking garage were being constructed. (Elliott Miller)
The exterior walls of the old tabernacle were put on stilts in April 2013 as the underground levels of the temple and surrounding parking garage were being constructed. (Elliott Miller)

This phase of the construction took the majority of the past year, but recently the results of this hard work have come to fruition. A close look behind the fences reveals that the old building now floats on a sea of metal posts. This has two purposes: to stabilize the historic shell of the tabernacle, as well as to create a solid foundation for two basement floors: a basement and a sub-basement that are to be built in the near future.

“This sort of thing could not have been done 25 years ago,” said Tandy, who has worked his whole career on construction projects, including LaVell Edwards Stadium, originally called Cougar Stadium, in the 1960s. Without modern technological developments, rebuilding and preserving the Tabernacle would not be possible.

Another important technological development is the use of precise sensors to prevent displacement. Multiple high-tech sensors are placed every 14 inches throughout the grounds to detect if the building moves even slightly.

“All of those are monitored so that if anything starts to settle or get out of it, the beam, the construction company will be immediately notified and they will know right where it’s at,” Tandy said.

The construction crew has also worked tirelessly to reinforce the original frame of the tabernacle. In order to make the building seismically safe, the construction company has sprayed the inside of the temple with a special type of concrete.

“They are now spraying the interior walls and making new walls with what they call ‘shockcrete,’ a very high-strength mixture,” Tandy said. “They have done that to the whole inside, and they have also done that to the old rubble foundation. It is very strong and very nice and seismic. That new wall then helps the old wall so it’s nice and seismic.”

This process can take between 10 to 12 hours just for one section of the wall, but it fortifies the walls, which are also reinforced by metal pins that have also been drilled in, making them more earthquake-proof.

This was all part of what Tandy calls the “second bid-pack,” or the second phase of the construction. This phase is helping the final product emerge and take shape, but the temple is far from finished. Tandy estimates that the whole project will be complete in 2015, although an official date has not yet been set.

As part of the final phase of the project, there will be a parking lot underneath the temple, as well as one above ground two blocks to the south. There will also be three garden plazas directly to the north, south and west of the temple.

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