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LDS Church marks the return of last steel pyramid atop Salt Lake Temple

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Feb 14, 2024
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Hundreds of construction team members gather Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, for the placement of the final reinforcing steel pyramid atop the Salt Lake Temple.
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Construction team members gather Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, to sign some of the final reinforcing steel that will go atop the Salt Lake Temple.
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The final reinforcing steel pyramid is lifted to the top of the Salt Lake Temple on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 800 construction workers gathered Tuesday to celebrate the last reinforcing steel pyramid on top of the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Nearly four years ago, the spires of the temple were removed as part of the building’s renovation plans, according to a press release issued by the church.

This was no easy task, however. In 2020, in order to make sure the spires returned to their original spots, workers mapped, tracked and documented the exact position of each stone before storing it for cleaning. Last summer, each of the spires’ reinforcing steel plates and refurbished stones were added back to their places one by one.

“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 at Temple Square, in the release. “I hope people will take satisfaction in seeing more and more things that are familiar come back to them.”

In 2019, church President Russell M. Nelson announced the house of worship would close for about four years for many projects including restoration, renovation and improvements of the surrounding grounds. Some of the work has included structural reinforcement to the walls and roof of the temple, and the installation of an isolation system under the foundation to lessen the impact of an earthquake. Updates or replacements also have been made to the electrical and plumbing equipment, in addition to replacing the sealing room on the north side of the building.

Latter-day Saint pioneers built the temple in the late 1800s out of solid granite, which took 40 years to complete. The fourth temple to be built, it was dedicated by president Wilford Woodruff in 1893.

According to the release, the new exterior is made out of quartz monzonite, which is similar to granite. The new steel supports were added with point cloud technology, allowing each new piece to be fabricated to the precise measurements needed to maintain the same size, shape and position the stone structure had, the church said.

“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.”

Ryan Memmott, executive project manager for Schuff Steel, the firm that fabricated and installed the new steel, said once the new steel members are anchored to the existing stone inside the spire, there will be a final pyramid-shaped steel section that is added to the top.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Completion of the project should be finished by 2026.

“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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