In advance of the temple’s closure at the end of December, Church representatives briefed members of the media Wednesday, December 4, 2019, about the initial phase of construction and enhanced offerings for guests who visit Temple Square during the project.
“We are working hard to prepare for the beginning of construction in a few short weeks,” said Brent Roberts, managing director of the Church’s Special Projects Department. “The four additional renderings released today indicate the careful and elegant approach we are taking in the renovation of this house of the Lord. We also look forward to welcoming many visitors to Temple Square during the next few years to witness this historic renovation.”
Initial Phase of Construction
After the temple closes December 29, 2019, crews will work to secure the construction area with a fence. In the middle of January 2020, the South Visitors’ Center and portions of the south Temple Square wall will be demolished. Statues, trees and fountains on the temple’s south side will also be removed. In the springtime, demolition of the temple’s north addition will take place. The renovation of the Church Office Building plaza is scheduled to begin in late 2020.
The temple renovation will involve replacing the historic building’s aging mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, as well as a significant seismic upgrade to help the building withstand a large-magnitude earthquake. Other details and project renderings were previously shared at a news conference in April 2019. Additional interior and exterior renderings will be released later.
“The temple is the most holy and sacred space in our religious worship, and we have high standards for construction,” said Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations. “We will also make every effort to be responsible stewards of our environment by using repurposing and recycling efforts in this construction project.”
Renovating the Salt Lake Temple also requires careful historical considerations. The building, which took 40 years to construct and was first dedicated in 1893, will be preserved and, in some cases, restored to its original design and feel.
“Preserving and restoring the temple requires a combination of the newest technologies and historic construction techniques,” said Emily Utt, Church History curator. “This project will highlight and honor the work of past craftsmen while making the temple safe, functional, accessible and beautiful for future generations. Experts in preserving historic stone, murals, plaster, wood and metal have been consulted in every stage of design and will complete much of the work required in the historic building.”
The renovation is expected to be complete in 2024 and followed by a public open house and rededication.
New Visitor Experience
Temple Square will remain open to visitors during the renovation. Beginning January 1, 2020, the Conference Center will become the primary venue for the Temple Square guest experience. It will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily. The new experience will feature both unguided and guided tours in more than 40 languages, a statue of Jesus Christ, a cutaway model of the Salt Lake Temple, exhibitions of various temple artifacts and an orientation film about the history of the temple.
Visitors will also be able to view the temple renovation from the Conference Center balcony level and roof, in addition to viewpoints near the construction site. Visitors will interact with volunteer hosts and full-time missionaries as part of the new guest experience.
Additionally, the annual Christmas lights on Temple Square will continue during construction, although on a reduced scale.
“Temple Square will remain open 365 days a year,” said Tanner Kay, Temple Square guest experience manager. “The experiences available for guests will transition and change over the course of the project in exciting ways. Our goal is to help guests feel welcome and to speak to their interests about the temple renovation or the Church when they visit.”
Other Temples Open During Renovation
Latter-day Saints consider temples to be the “house of the Lord” and the most sacred places of worship on the earth. Temples differ from the Church’s meetinghouses (chapels). All are welcome to attend Sunday worship services and other weekday activities at local meetinghouses. The primary purpose of temples, however, is for faithful members of the Church to participate in sacred ceremonies such as marriages, which unite families forever, and proxy baptisms on behalf of deceased ancestors who did not have the opportunity while living.
Church members who previously attended the Salt Lake Temple will have the option to attend other temples in the area, including Bountiful, Draper, Jordan River and Oquirrh Mountain. Those individuals who worked as volunteers in the Salt Lake Temple will be released from their duties or, in some cases, reassigned to work in other temples.
“We know the Salt Lake Temple holds a special place in the hearts of many members of the Church, as well as the broader community,” said Rich Sutton, temple area director. “We hope people will feel welcome to come and see the construction as it progresses and look forward with anticipation to the day that this beautiful, sacred structure will again open its doors for generations to come.”