Published on January 12th, 2016 | by UC&D Magazine
UC&D Project of the Year & Outstanding Large Renovation/Restoration Project
Provo City Center Temple
Owner: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Architect: FFKR Architects
General Contractor: Jacobsen Construction
Electrical Engineer: Envision Engineering
Structural Engineer: Reaveley Engineers + Associates
Mechanical Engineer: Van Boerum & Frank Associates
Civil Engineer: Bowen Collins & Associates, Inc.
Landscape Architect: In-Site Design Group
Like a Phoenix rising from ashes, the Provo City Center Temple stands as a testament to what can be done when a group of talented design and construction professionals put their heads together and collaborate on creating a truly historic and once-in-a-lifetime project.
Formerly the home of the historic Provo Tabernacle, the building was completely gutted by a four-alarm fire on December 17, 2010, leaving nothing but portions of the brick masonry exterior. Officials from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints quickly decided they wanted the building not only preserved and renovated, but completely transformed into a state-of the-art modern temple, a facility used for special religious ceremonies for faithful LDS members.
Preserving the building’s 3,500-ton exterior was crucial to the transformation and required significant innovation throughout the design and construction process, including a series of complex scaffolding sections. After much careful planning and thought, the contractor placed the structure on 40-foot high stilts in order to begin construction in the basement.
Crews excavated to 25 feet below grade over a 150,000 SF area and 40 feet below grade over 15,000 square feet, and then installed complex shoring and dewatering systems. To protect the exterior shell, two layers of brick were removed from the structure’s perimeter, while the remaining three layers were secured with steel ties. Concrete was applied through rebar grating around the interior for additional stabilization. Sensors and laser survey equipment were used to ensure the building did not move.
It would be an understatement to say that just the idea of preserving this structure was a daunting task facing the construction team.
“I’ll be honest,” said Jacobsen Superintendent Rod Lawrence, “the first day I toured the burned out shell of the Provo Tabernacle, I thought, “Why would they save this structure given the condition it was in?” Later that day, I watched media coverage of the fire and saw the effect it had on the community. I saw people on their knees, crying, in the middle of a cold winter night as they watched the Tabernacle burn. I soon realized what this structure meant to the people of Provo and Utah…I understood why this structure needed to be saved.”
Placing a building on 40-foot stilts was just a Herculean feat on so many levels, and attracted the interest of the Provo community.
“People (were) amazed when they saw
(the construction site),” said Andy Kirby, Project Manager for the LDS Church. “They haven’t seen anything like it before. They just say it doesn’t look real and are amazed that we can do that, that we can lift a building up with the piles like that.”
The simple Gothic Revival exterior was completely restored, as was the roof and other historic finishes, while the interior was transformed into a more functional and modern-looking space. Much of the materials that went into the building were custom made, requiring careful planning to account for long lead times. Like other LDS Temples, interiors are ornate and of the finest quality, with materials brought in from remote national and international areas.
The building was architectural restored to be as close to the original as possible, a herculean feat for designers, contractors and the craftsmen who created these oneof-a-kind finishes.
“This really is a once-in-a-lifetime project,” said Kirk Dickamore, Jacobsen Project Manager. “The Provo Tabernacle was an icon for the city and the Church. Collaborating with our team to build this temple has been a remarkable experience. We’ve not only restored some of Provo’s historic charm, but preserved an important piece of history.”