In Provo, Utah, engineers are saving the 130-year-old Provo Tabernacle that was gutted by fire in 2010. The building has huge historic and spiritual significance for Provo’s “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (LDS) congregation who grew up attending services there.
The 6.8 million pound (3.1 million kg) church stood for a time on stilts in the midst of a deep pit. During the process, engineers used sophisticated sensors and laser technology to survey the structure to make sure it and the pilings were not moving. First, crews removed bricks from the interior and poured concrete to stabilize exterior walls. Then, 146 pilings were driven 90 feet (27 m) into the earth around the structure to hold it up. Finally, the ground underneath, around the building and the original foundation were excavated and removed to a depth of 40 feet (12.2 m).
An army of engineers, architects and contractors have been working on the complicated project. Pouring of concrete for the new foundation began in April 2013 and foundation walls have been rising between the pillars that have been holding up the building. The two-story basement will include an underground support structure to house mechanical equipment and underground parking.
The project’s main mission is to restore and preserve the Tabernacle’s exterior brick and wood work that was not damaged in the fire. Art-glass windows resembling those that were destroyed in the fire are being re-created. The project is expected to be complete by 2017.
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