The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has quietly commenced an additional project around its main headquarters complex just over a year after the famed Salt Lake Temple closed for a four-year renovation. The plaza in front of the Church Office Building—the tallest building in Utah—will be revamped over the next 18 months to beautify the area and resolve longstanding water leakage issues due to the plaza’s iconic fountain.
However, the beloved fountain, which can shoot water up to 52 feet high, is getting the ax, as are the large pools around it. The plaza as most know it is actually cover for a large parking structure underneath. The fountain system, which has also fed water features around the plaza, has leaked for years and poses a structural threat to the parking lot below. The new plaza will feature waterproofing improvements but lose the central fountain.
The upside to this is were you to be on the east side of the plaza, there will no longer be a pesky fountain blocking views of the Salt Lake Temple. Instead, the sight lines in the plaza will be improved to emphasize the temple. After all, the devil controls the waters, amirite?
To replace the vertical language of the fountain, a series of international flags will be arranged around the plaza to emphasize the global nature of the Church. It’ll be like a mini State Department! This does raise some crucial questions, though: Will the flags be for every country where the Church has missionaries? If so, how do we handle China? Can we fly the flag of the Republic of China (i.e. Taiwan) and imperil already shaky plans for the Shanghai China Temple? Can we fly the flag of the People’s Republic of China and upset Taiwan? Perhaps neither flag will be flown. Perhaps we can be regressive and only fly the flag of the 50 United States plus Canada’s Alberta (the most righteous province, as you know). Or maybe Salt Lake will make a statement and fly the flags of Puerto Rico and Washington, DC exclusively in a massive push for statehood!
Main Street Plaza, the pedestrianized portion of Main Street that the Church purchased from the city approximately 20 years ago, remains open to the public while both plazas flanking it our closed for their respective renovations. According to the Church, once the Church Office Building project is completed, attention will move to Main Street Plaza. Will another fountain that covers a parking structure be affected?
The 18-month time frame along with however long the Main St project will take, indicates the Church is aiming to have all projects wrapped up to coincide with the completion of the Salt Lake Temple, at which point Temple Square will largely cease to be a self-contained property and the larger two-block Church campus will be more open and cohesive as one.