April 29, 2014

The Amazing Foundation Beneath the Provo City Center Temple

Provo Tabernacle on stilts, Photo courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
When the Provo Tabernacle burned down in 2010, my husband and I joined the many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints saddened by the loss.  Although fire claimed all the wood in the structure, the brick facade remained, but was damaged and weakened.  The Church supported it with beams while decisions were made about what would be done with the building.

My husband and I lived in Provo for a few years while attending Brigham Young University, where we met and married.  We attended church a few times in the Provo Tabernacle, when there was Stake conference held on the site.  It was a lovely building, rich in the history that we share as Mormon Pioneers.  With that in mind, we were happy to hear that the Church would rebuild the tabernacle and redesign it into a Temple.

Since then, each time we visit Provo to see our children attending Brigham Young University, we drove past the site to see how construction was coming along.  Last weekend, we did the same and found it covered in scaffolding, but looking as if it was nearing completion.

We were in Provo to participate in the graduation ceremonies of our son, who was graduating from the School of Engineering.  Convocation gave us a real treat, as the main speaker was Doug Welling, the Chief Executive Officer of Jacobsen Construction, the firm responsible for the renovation.  Welling spoke about how important it was for them to build a solid foundation under the tabernacle before they could make it into a temple.  It was fascinating to me!

Since the tabernacle was completed in 1898, regulations have been put into place to protect buildings against earthquakes and other problems.  To build the temple there, the building needed to be brought up to those standards.  And they wanted to do it without injuring the old building in the process.

Since the building is all brick with thick walls, it weighs a lot—some estimate it weighs 6.8 million pounds!  So you can’t just pick it up and move it, pour cement under it, then move it back.  They had to support it first, then dig all the dirt out underneath it, then pour the cement under it.  Additionally, plans were to expand the building downward to include two basement floors.  

Jacobsen construction worked with several Engineering firms to figure out how to do it.  First they stabilized the outer brick walls and tied them all to each other.  Then they drove about 150 thick metal rods into the ground 90 feet down around and under the temple.  They could do that from inside the walls, since the floor and roof were destroyed in the fire.   Welding all of these rods to horizontal rods, they created a platform that would hold the temple up.  Then they welded the supports holding the walls up to the platform, basically transferring the weight of the temple onto the 150 rods.  Now that it was supported, they could start digging.  They dug 20 feet down, exposing the rods, and welding cross beams to give more support and stability to the building.  They put up a wall around the outside to hold back the dirt from around the temple.  Then they dug another 25 feet down and welded those rods to more support beams.  The tabernacle was now up on stilts!  Now they could put a strong foundation underneath.

At the bottom, they placed 400 smaller rods into the ground, laid a grid on top of it and welded it all together.  Into that grid they poured 18 inches of cement, a nice firm foundation for a temple.  Two-foot thick walls were poured upward until they reached the bottom of the brick walls.  When the temple was resting firmly on those walls, the ‘stilts’ were removed.  Although it was a lot of work, the tabernacle can now be made into a temple because of the firm foundation underneath it!

If you want to watch it all happen, go to the live camera by visiting this website:  http://churchofjesuschristoflatterdaysaints.workzonecam.com/ 
Click on the link at the top left ‘watch movie.’  It’s amazing to watch the time-lapse photos make a movie of the temple being built!

Now that you understand what went into laying the groundwork for this temple, you can appreciate what Welling said about foundations.  (This isn’t word for word, just what I’m piecing together from my notes, but you get the idea.)  “If you have a strong foundation, you can be ready to do anything.  The best is yet to come.  Prepare yourself for it by building a solid foundation based on a testimony of the gospel, a good education and a habit of service.”  This is good advice to a graduating class of engineers.

This is also great advice for all of us.  A strong foundation based on faith in the Savior will prepare us for all of the great opportunities awaiting us.  We add strength when we take time each day to read the holy scriptures and commune with Heavenly Father.  Pondering is like boring deeply into the earth, reinforcing our base and anchoring ourselves to the bedrock of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

As Jesus taught in his parable of the wise man and the foolish man, we must bore deeply into the rock so as to withstand the trials and problems that will happen to us.  

Matthew 17: 24 
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
For more information on how the Provo City Center Temple foundation was built beneath the old Tabernacle, see:

Cardno, Catharine A.  "In Utah, Historic Facade Saved with Stilts."  Civil Engineering.  June 18, 2013.  n. pag. web.  www.asce.org/cemagazine.

No comments:

Post a Comment