Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Conference Center

So not to recap on the previouse post, but time really does have a way of speeding by. I seriously thought the confrence cente in SLC had been open for only a couple of years... 2000 is when it was completed. To quote a very smart woman... Grrr! Anyway, the confrence center was built to house the ever increasing population of Mormons that come to SLC to see General Confrence among other events. Just as a side note, General Confrence is this weekend, check your local BYU TV schedule for times and listings. Origionaly these events were confined to the Tabernacle, (see previouse post regarding this structure), and as I am sure you are all aware, it was way to small to handel the increaseing population and demand. Thus the Confrence Center was born.
Just a couple of note worthy statistics regarding the Conference Center. It can hold up to 21,200 visitors, and it is 1.4 million square feet inside... that’s enough to house two Boeing 747 jets. Amway, this was my first time ever seeing this massive center. I was very impressed. The design of the building as, remarkable as it is, is very conservative in its design. I for one hate religious gaudy buildings, every time I see meeting houses that can hold this many people, I think televangelists. The church did a wonderful job in keeping the design of the building understated and not too flamboyant with its design... it does however take ones breath away when the size and magnitude are seen from the inside. To fully comprehend how big of an auditorium this is, one must see the inside. The picture below shows the bottom tier and the screen that is used to display the speaker, choir, or whatever the camera's are focused on. There is a screen on the adjacent wall as well. Live cameras are found through out the center. On a side note, when they give tours, they switch entry points, aisles that you walk down, and doors and escalators that you go through. All this is done to prevent premature wear on the building, so as to maintain its new image. Honestly the building still looks new. Another interesting fact is that the building has no pillars in it to support the roof, it is completely supported by a beam made of Belgium steal, that way there are no pillars to obstruct ones view... not a bad seat in the house! The seats were also very comfy as well, unlike the Tabernacle with its hard benches. Though the benches do keep you awake. :-) The picture on the side shows the aisles that are roped off this month to avoid the premature wear of foot traffic from tourists. Also note the three tiers, the building houses three levels for seating. Unfortunatelythe consesion stand was closed when we visited... would you imagine the clean up involved if they actually did serve food, think movie theater... Yuck. All seats in the audience have an unabstructed view of the pulpit because the balcony is held up by radial trusses. Under full capacity the balconies will sink 6 inches. And then there is the Organ!
The pipe Organ, though it is not the largest one, in the world or state, remember the Tabernacle has the largest one in the world, it is still impressive none the least.The flags at both sides are usually not hung there, I amnot sure why they were there on this paticular day. Look close and you can see the Organ's keyboard.Here is a view fromt he upper tier, it still looks massive, even though I am almost 2 football fields away. You can get a sense of the size and the symmetry of the building from here.Here is a close up of the auditorium; they are setting up for General Conference 4 weeks early. The rostrum behind the pulpit seats 158 seats for the general authorities, and 360 seats for the Tabernacle Choir. Also, note the pulpit found in the picture below, it is constructed from a Black Walnut tree that had been planted in President Hinckley's backyard decades earlier, which is why it is a different shade than the rest of the wood work in the Auditorium. There is also a parking Garage below that can accommodate 1800 cars. The roof holds hundreds of trees to adorn the nearby Capitol Hill. There is also a running waterfall found in the front of the building which is fed from a natural spring found beneath the center during its construction. The roof is not made of solid granite like the buildings walls, this is due to the immense weight and strain it would put on the building. So to compensate for this, a composite of Styrofoam, concrete and granite was created to lessen the roof's weight. Here is a picture of the fountain described above...
The spring that feeds this collects into a run off canal on the top of the roof, pictured below.The views from the roof are fantastic; the mountains in all directions can be seen, along with fantastic views of Temple Square. Due to zoning laws imposed on the church, the structure could not exceed more than 75 feet in accord with zoning regulations for the LDS Church-owned 10 acre block immediately north of Temple Square. This a side shot of downtown Salt Lake City, the back side of the temple can be seen on the far left. The temple, as timeless as it has remained, still stands out, even though it has been dwarfed by other buildings. One thing to note is that the temple stands directly in the middle of the city. This particular shot would be of the west side of the temple. Below are pictures from the roof, you can see the mountains to the west as well. The foliage on the west side of the roof represents native plants that are found in the west, while the foliage on the east side of the roof are native to the East. This shot to the left is of the foliage that would be found in the west... I am hoping that it looks dead because it is winter time. The foliage from the East was a lot more livlier, and green. It is definatly interesting to compare the differneces that can be seen just by walking a few steps to the other side of the roof. There was a lot of thought and symbolism that went into the design of this building, there defiantly is a lot to see.Check out the view of the Church administration building below, for the longest time this is was the largest structure in Salt Lake City.Here are some shots of the fountains that can be found all over the roof, along with a granite wall

mural and the back. I unfortunately was talking pictures while the docent was talking so I was not able to get information on this piece or why it was placed here. If you touch it, you can defiantly see that it is made from granite. Another interesting design feature of the building is that it has pyramids over the center section of the roof. These pyramids are made of glass and create a prism effect in the main hall. In the picture to the side, the pyramids are covered up. There was, however, one uncovered which I will show in a future post. I still have not covered the lobbies, the live piano that is played by live pianists through out the day. These people actually come in at their own free will, and play for a couple of hours. The melodic sound of a grand piano echo through the halls, it is wonderful. And then there is the art pieces that can be found through out the center. I also have some pictures of the Joseph Smith Building as well. So on that note I will finish up here with a some of my personal favorite shots. This picture is of a mansion that was built during the pioneer days. I am facing the North East peering through the Eastern side of the Conference Center's tree lined roof. For those of you that are paying attention, you will note that these trees are native to the East. The church originally owned this building, but had to sell it due to state requirements that it be handicap accessible. It looks like it has been well maintained, the exterior looked brand new. The church's new Art Museum, which can not be seen in this picture, is being built to the left of the mansion shown above. Some of my other favorit shots I got while in the inner hall.One is of the lighting system and the catwalks in the ceiling, the other is a pan shot of the seats with a slow shutter speed, enjoy.

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