SALT LAKE CITY — It's been about one year since the renovations began on the Salt Lake Temple; and now, big changes are coming to The Church Office Building plaza in Temple Square.
In addition to getting a new water system, the plaza's updates will also feature a more inclusive design aimed at representing the more than 16 million global members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As part of that new design, a large circle of flags will replace the fountain that previously sat on the grounds, according to Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations.
The flags will "celebrate the international nature" of the church, Kirby said in a statement.
As it stands today, a fountain, several flower gardens, trees and grass surround the plaza, which requires a circulating water system. But the water system and the concrete deck have leaked for several years and have created a hazard for the parking garage under it. Over the course of this 18-month planned construction project, a waterproofing system will be built into the new plaza to fix the leaking.
Additionally, the new design will feature an open landscape of green space and gardens to increase the visibility of the temple and make the grounds more welcoming, the church said.
"Our design of the landscaping on this plaza and around the temple will open up access and views to the temple and make it more inviting for people to feel welcome here on the grounds of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," Kirby said.
Renovations on the Salt Lake Temple began in January 2020 and will leave the temple closed until 2024. In addition to updating parts of the temple's design, much of the project is aimed at updating the temple's foundation to make it better equipped to handle earthquakes — something that became more relevant when a 5.7 earthquake shook Salt Lake County a few months after construction began. The quake shook loose the trumpet from the golden Angel Moroni statue that sits atop the temple.
Once the updates to the plaza are completed, crews will shift focus to the construction on the Main Street Plaza, according to Kirby.
"The landscaping around the temple, Main Street Plaza and the church headquarters block will all be very similar," he said. "We're trying to make it like it's the same landscape and it all relates to the temple."