The New SLC redevelopment program 'tops off' North Concourse

Construction at the New SLC Redevelopment Program at the Salt Lake City International Airport achieved a major milestone late last month with the “topping off” of the new North Concourse. In the construction business, a “topping out” or “topping off” is a builder’s rite that is traditionally held when the last beam — or its equivalent — is placed on top of a structure during construction. 

The North Concourse was not part of the original terminal redevelopment program as the airport undergoes it year-long rebuilding, but was announced in May 2016. Initially, the airport planned to continue using concourses F, C and D, and planned to build the North Concourse at a future date. But tremendous passenger growth and significant facility deficiencies, which would have required costly renovations, moved up the timeline. The North Concourse broke ground in January 2018, and since that time workers have installed thousands of stone columns, poured approximately 16,190 cubic yards of concrete and erected more than 5,000 tons of structural steel. 

The first phase of the North Concourse will include 20 gates in a 465,775-square-foot building. The second phase will include 10 gates in a 364,479-square-foot building, with the ability to build an additional 15 gates to the east for a total of 45 gates. The flexible gate layout will serve a mix of aircraft sizes, although the North Concourse will primarily be used for narrow-body and small, wide-body aircraft. The $850 million North Concourse contract was awarded to Austin Okland, which is a joint venture between Texas-based Austin Commercial and Salt Lake-based Okland Construction.

Salt Lake City International Airport serves more than 25 million passengers a year from facilities that were designed almost 50 years ago to serve only half the current passenger load. The target date for the completion of the projects currently under construction is late 2024 with additional additions set to begin thereafter.

Church launches 4-year rebuild of Temple Square

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced a major construction project for the faith’s iconic Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Authorities of the church said April 19 that the Salt Lake Temple will close Dec. 29 along with a large portion of Temple Square and the neighboring Main Street Plaza.

The church said that the 126-year-old temple will be closed for four years to complete a major renovation which will include an earthquake-mitigation system known as base-isolation which will involve excavating beneath the temple to install equipment and footings that will prevent damage by largely decoupling the building from the earth.

Other systems such as a fire sprinklers on the interior of the building will also be installed. 

The grounds immediately surrounding the temple will also dramatically change. Major demolition will be replaced by two “entry pavilions” and new visitors’ pavilions to the east and west of the temple. Much of the historic wall around the square will be replaced with more visitor-friendly wrought-iron fences that will give a more unobstructed view of the temple itself.

When the project is done in 2024, the church will host an open house to give the public its first glimpse of the 126-year-old temple's interior in more than a century. Church President Russell M. Nelson said, "We promise that you will love the results." 

The building and square at the heart of Utah's capital city is one of the state's top tourist destinations, though only church members in good standing can go inside the building used for marriages and other religious ceremonies.

"We want (visitors) to think of Salt Lake just as easily as they think of Jerusalem or The Vatican as a place where Christianity really has its heart," Bishop Dean M. Davies said at the announcement press conference.

The work that will bring scaffolding, cranes and occasional road closures to downtown Salt Lake City also carries increased fire risk, authorities said. The church is taking extra caution in light of the damage to Norte Dame cathedral in Paris by crafting a plan that includes a 24-hour fire watch, limiting welding and grinding to certain areas, and plenty of fire extinguishers.

Church leaders declined to say how much the project will cost.

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