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LDS Conference Center

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Conference Center
Conference Center
Conference Center interior looking towards the rostrum and organ.
Location 60 W. North Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah
Public transit Temple Square Trax Station
Owner The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Type Theater
Seating type Reserved by Section
Capacity 21,000[1]
Broke ground 24 July 1997[2]
Opened April 2000[1]
Architect ZGF Architects LLP[3]
LDS Conference Center
View of Conference Center spire taken from the south, from North Temple St., Salt Lake City

The Conference Center, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the premier meeting hall for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Substantially completed in spring 2000 in time for the church's April 2000 general conference, the 21,000-seat Conference Center replaced the traditional use of the nearby Salt Lake Tabernacle, built in 1868, for semi-annual LDS Church general conferences and major church gatherings, devotionals, and other events. It is believed to be the largest theater-style auditorium ever built.[4]


  • Features 1
    • Conference Center Theater 1.1
  • Planning and construction 2
    • Little Cottonwood Canyon controversy 2.1
    • Completion 2.2
    • Schoenstein Organ at the Conference Center 2.3
  • Gallery 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


The 1.4 million square foot (130,000 m2) Conference Center seats 21,200 people in its main City Creek flows in a rough-hewn riverbed, complementing the Conference Center.

On the third floor of the Conference Center there are busts of current and past presidents of the church and photographs of LDS leaders; photographs of female LDS leaders were added in 2014.[5]

Because the building sits near the base of Salt Lake City's Capitol Hill, the roof is landscaped for attractiveness, an extension of the Gardens at Temple Square. About 3 acres (12,000 m²) of grass and hundreds of trees have been planted on the roof. Twenty-one native grasses were employed to conserve water and showcase local foliage. The landscaping is meant to echo the mountains and meadows of Utah.

Conference Center Theater

The Conference Center Theater

Attached to the main building on the northwest corner is the 850-seat Conference Center Theater that can be used as a dedicated theater or as an overflow room.[6]

Planning and construction

The design of the Conference Center was accomplished by Portland, Oregon-based Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership, which was the design architect and Auerbach & Associates of San Francisco, which was responsible for theater design and architectural lighting.[7] The designs were solicited by LDS Church architect Leland Gray in the early 1990s, apparently at Gordon B. Hinckley's request. Hinckley was then a counselor in the First Presidency, but became President of the Church in 1995. The LDS Church originally sought a 26,000-seat building no more than 75 feet (23 m) high in accord with zoning regulations for the LDS Church-owned 10 acre (40,000 m²) block immediately north of Temple Square. Hinckley publicly announced the project in the April 1996 general conference. The final plans, completed in late 1996, featured 21,200 seats in the main hall with 905 in the side theater.

Contracting for the building was done by three Salt Lake City firms: Jacobsen, Layton, and Okland construction companies which submitted a joint bid in order to compete with national firms. The companies jointly operated under the name "Legacy Constructors" after winning the contract in late 1996.

Demolition of existing LDS Church properties on the site began May 1997. Deseret Gym—a YMCA-like gymnasium—and a Mormon Handicraft store had to be razed for the project.

Ground was broken July 24, 1997. This date coincided with the 150th anniversary of Mormon pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley, an event celebrated in Utah as Pioneer Day.

Little Cottonwood Canyon controversy

Conference Center from its southwest corner

Although the Conference Center is a modern steel truss and rebar-based design without need for masonry support, the LDS Church sought slabs of quartz monzonite, a form of granite, to clad all exterior walls. Specifically, the church wanted granite to match rock quarried more than a hundred years earlier to build the adjacent Salt Lake Temple. Therefore, the LDS Church requested a permit to quarry granite from Little Cottonwood Canyon southeast of Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake County Commission granted a two-year permit on condition that extraction not interfere with the ski season. Critics of the extraction argued that the quarry harmed the environment and burdened residents while endangering drivers through Little Cottonwood Canyon below.

Quarrying began May 28, 1998. Although court filings challenged the legality of extracting the granite (specifically attacking Salt Lake County's authority to issue permit), the project was interrupted only by winter weather. The LDS Church finished quarrying by November 1999. Over 300,000 square feet (28,000 m²) of granite was extracted. The granite was subsequently cut into slabs at a facility in Idaho Falls and used for the facade of the building. There was not enough granite extracted from the Little Cottonwood Canyon quarry for the entire project, so extra granite was brought in from the mid-west and used for the flooring.


The exceptionally unusual Salt Lake City Tornado hindered construction on August 11, 1999. Construction cranes toppled at the work site, and four injuries to crew were reported. Otherwise, construction proceeded smoothly and rapidly.

Construction was complete enough for the building to be used for the 170th annual church general conference on April 1 and 2, 2000. The black walnut tree that he had planted decades earlier in his backyard provided wood for the pulpit of the new center.

The Conference Center was dedicated six months later, on October 8, during the 170th semiannual general conference. As part of the event, the dedicatory prayer was followed by a "hosanna shout"—a show of gratitude that dates to the early days of the Latter Day Saint movement. The shout involves participants waving white handkerchiefs while repeating "Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna, to God and the Lamb" three times. Though it had been used in public before, such as during the capstone ceremony for the Salt Lake Temple and at the church centennial celebration in 1930, before this public broadcast of the hosanna shout, some assumed it was exclusively related to LDS temple dedications, which are inaccessible to non-Mormons. The Conference Center dedication demonstrated that the hosanna shout, although considered sacred by the Latter-day Saints, is not necessarily used exclusively in temple-related settings.

Schoenstein Organ at the Conference Center

Magnum Opus: The Building of the Schoenstein Organ at the Conference Center by

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Official Utah Tourism site: The LDS Conference Center
  • Church News feature: Tour of the Conference CenterDeseret News
  • Set in Stone: Architectural Beauties of the Conference Center, a documentary on the Conference Center from BYU Television
  • An online tour of Temple Square
  • Specifications of the Conference Center Organ
  • ASLA DESIGN AWARD 2003: the LDS Conference Center Green Roof]

External links

  • Springer, Carly M. (September 8, 2014), "30 Things You Didn't Know about the Conference Center",  

Further reading

  • Halverson, W. Dee (2000). The LDS Conference Center. Salt Lake City: DMT Publishing.  
  1. ^ a b "Temple Square Events". LDS Church. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Searle, Don L. (October 2000). "The Conference Center: “This New and Wonderful Hall”". Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership (2002). "Building The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Conference Center". text accompanying photos by Deborah Dietsch. Edizioni Press. p. 8.  
  4. ^ "Tabernacle Choir Getting to Know Unique Conference Center". News from the Church. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 
  5. ^  
  6. ^ "Visitors' Centers". Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  7. ^ Enlow, Clair (February 7, 2001), "LDS Conference Center Welcomes the Faithful", ArchitectureWeek (37) 
  8. ^ Bethards, Jack M. (2009), Magnum Opus: The Building of the Schoenstein Organ At the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah:  




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