Thursday, December 5, 2013


I knew the center tower was going to be placed this afternoon, so I made another trip to the site.
The workmen were treated to a special lunch which was actually held inside the tabernacle where it is much warmer than the 17 degrees it was outside.  With the annex roof complete, there is no longer a need for ladders and scaffolding to cross the area.  The work of removing the waffle plating and supports below this concrete roof continues.
Mr. Crane delivered decking for the steel beams while I waited.  You can see beams being prepared inside the northeast tower for its tower cap.
Andy Kirby, a senior project manager over the temple restoration, spoke to BYU engineering students this morning.  My engineer-husband was invited to attend, and I tagged along.  This was a more technical presentation than the firesides have been.  Brother Kirby explained that the dark beams are unpainted and will receive a special coating in order to be fire-proofed.  He also mentioned that as they have worked on the building, it's very obvious that the tabernacle was originally handmade.  For example, no two windows are the same size.  He observed that this type of thing bothers engineers, something I already knew.  I learned that while much of the art glass from the tabernacle was saved after the fire, reusing it in the new windows will not produce the high quality required for a temple.
Brother Kirby talked to the students about his directive from Church leaders to preserve as much of the original structure as possible.  The masonry contractor will clean and repair the existing brick, replace what is necessary, and then repoint the mortar.
He explained the process of moving 6.8 million pounds of the masonry shell to a steel foundation using I-beams through the original pioneer foundation.  He called these needle beams.  It has taken quite a bit of skill to properly place the rebar vertically and horizontally in these holes vacated by the beams.  The steel must line up with the rebar in the foundation below and with the rebar in the shotcrete shell above.
These holes from the needle beams were filled earlier this week and are now covered with concrete blankets to help in the curing process in the cold weather.  There are still 15 holes remaining to be filled.  Brother Kirby explained that the foundation was poured in three lifts.  The final lift was injected at 7000 psi.
Brother Kirby talked to the students about the team he works with.  All have particular backgrounds and experiences which make each person extremely valuable on this special project.  However, he advised the students to listen to the technicians who perform the actual work.  They often have answers and solutions gained from their years of experience.
After their lunch, which I was told was delicious, many workmen gathered at the base of the tower.  While they waited for Mr. Crane to pick up the steeple, I walked along University Avenue looking for the best spot to take pictures.  I thought about something Brother Kirby said which I had not heard before.  His directive included using historical elements in the new temple.  While on a ladder after the fire, he found pioneer stenciling along the west wall, near the area where the organ pipes were later placed.  He traced the pattern, and this design will be replicated in the brides' room.  
Brother Kirby told the students that there were no design schematics for this center tower.  Instead, they relied on historical photographs to duplicate it.  While it looks a little too modern at this point, it will ultimately have a "ski-jump" slope at the bottom.  I learned later in the day that this tower will be clad with wood before the slate shingles are attached.
Brother Kirby showed pictures of the excavation and explained weight-bearing lugs which connected the masonry shell to the needle beams.  I had not heard this phrase before.  He showed a picture of a micropile driver which had been lifted into the building and I heard voices of astonishment around me.
Brother Kirby talked to the students about the design life of the new temple, stating that it must stand through the end of the world plus one thousand years.  It was fun to hear waves of laughter as they grasped the underlying meaning.
Numerous questions from the students reflected an interest in the engineering involved, and a professor later commented that no one left the seminar at this point, which is usually the norm that a few hustle to another class.  One student asked how much of the original tabernacle will be part of the new temple.  Brother Kirby answered by saying that as much of the masonry as possible has been preserved.  He knew he was in a room full of people who focused on efficiency, but his directive was to preserve the original structure and include historical elements throughout the temple.  In addition to the brick, original timbers from the four towers have been saved.  The pulpit was preserved, and he has a set of scriptures from the tabernacle which will be returned to the building.
A student asked about the design of the temple.  Brother Kirby explained that two "A" endowment rooms will be at ground level on the east side, to the right of this picture.  Temple patrons will progress through new stairwells in the east towers up to one "B" room.  You might be wondering about the small squares in the plywood under the windows.  I learned this afternoon that the floor is lower than we might think.  The workmen inside the building can see out the squares but not outside the windows unless they are using a red ladder.
Many onlookers stopped to watch the steeple being lifted.  It was a fun day.
You will be interested to know that the construction camera was moved a little to the west yesterday.  Elder Newitt would have liked to have moved it farther, but connections had to be taken into consideration.  I told Elder Newitt that the cam was reporting it was 48 degrees at the site.  We both had a laugh about that.  Perhaps it is picking up some heat from its new location.
If you want to think about being warm, plans are underway for next July's Temple to Temple Run.  You can register here.


Unknown said...

I was there at the engineering presentation, I'd been looking foreward to it ever since my professor told us we would be doing that instead of our class that day. It was awesome, answered a lot of questions I'd had about the construction of it.

I'm also really glad you are documenting this whole process. I will be leaving on my mission in February before it's completion so I'm glad when I get back I will be able to look through this blog and see all I missed! I hope someone writes a book about the tabernacle and construction into a temple, that would be awesome!

Thanks again for doing this!

Julie Markham said...

I am aware of two books being considered about this temple. Hopefully they were be published and available before you return from your mission. I'll be sure to put links to the books on the right-hand side of the blog.

David said...

Hi Julie,
Do I see the gables being constructed under the plastic? Also, what is the function of the "mini bridge" (for lack of a better term) at the bottom right-hand corner of the construction cam that is connected to the wall of the mechanical shop?

Jeff Miller said...

Hey Julie, Did you hear about the small fire at the Provo City Center Temple on Thursday night? The article that I read had a picture from the webcam, that showed the fire burning near the north gable. The article said that there was no damage caused once the propane heater was turned off, but looking at past photos that you have taken of the north gable, it looks like the bricks are significantly burned now from that fire. Do you have any information about this or could compare photos on the blog that show if there was any damage? Thanks!

Jeff Miller said...

Maybe there really wasn't any damage to the bricks, maybe it was the plastic that they have covering the gable that was a little blackened...I just looked on the webcam and it doesn't look blackened anymore, so maybe they replaced the plastic covering that they have.

Julie Markham said...

David, I have just returned from the site and I can see cinder blocks for the gables rising under the plastic. The mini-bridge is part of the roof being constructed over the west parking structure. I don't know if the pictures I got today show that or not -- I haven't looked at them yet. Jeff, I looked for damage today from Friday's fire but didn't see any.

Hannah said...

My favorite thing Brother Kirby said at the presentation was about the center spire. It had been removed because it was weakening the roof, in 1920, and then later, in 1923, I think, the platform was removed too, because the roof was still weakening.

He said that now, I quote, "the roof doesn't support the spire, the spire supports the roof".

It was the best day.