“The New General Church Office Building,” Ensign, Jan. 1973, 139
One fact that should be clear from the start is the real name of the structure: the General Church Office Building.
The mailing address (and the mailing address of all thirty-six Church departments and agencies housed in it) is: 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150. Notice how the last two digits—50—in the zip code match the 50 in the street number. That’s just one of the little conveniences the building planners thought of when they designed the 28-story structure whose gleaming white tower has so completely altered the Salt Lake City skyline.
On any workday, Monday through Friday, Church employees arrive at their new offices sometime between 7:30 and 8:15 A.M. Arrival times are staggered so that entrances to the underground parking plaza are not suddenly jammed with cars of the 1500-plus persons who work in the building.
A special permit allows employees access to the spiral ramps leading to the 1250-car parking lot on three underground levels. From the parking plaza, employees either take the stairs or ride a shuttle elevator to the lobby on the main floor of the new building.
The first lower level is right below the lobby and has a 700-seat cafeteria to accommodate Church employees, patrons of the historical, genealogical, and reference libraries, and missionaries from the nearby Mission Home.
On the main floor are 15 elevators for passenger use: three from the parking plaza; six low-rise elevators to service the first to the 14th floors; and a bank of six high-rise elevators that travel at 1,000 feet per minute to the 14th floor and then service the upper section of the building above that. In addition, there are two more elevators in the west wing, two in the east wing, a freight elevator that stops on all floors, and another shuttle elevator. This makes a total of 21 elevators.
Also on the main level is a 350-seat auditorium, complete with lighting, stage facilities, and projection equipment. This area is used by the General Authorities, priesthood committees, auxiliary boards, and departments and agencies of the Church for special presentations, meetings, and seminars.
The second to the 13th floors and the 15th to the 25th floors have been assigned as office space to various Church departments and agencies (see diagram). Because some departments require facilities different from others, the interior walls in these office areas are movable to allow flexibility in the arrangement of space. Each department may specify its own particular floor plan.
On the 14th floor is an employee lounge and first aid center. There, too, are the payroll and personnel departments, along with other offices that must be accessible to all Church workers.
The 22nd floor has board rooms and conference and committee rooms of varying sizes for from 10 to 160 people. Church departments may use these rooms during the day; at night they are used for auxiliary board meetings.
The 26th floor consists of a large reception area flanked on the east and west by patios. This area commands a view of the entire Salt Lake Valley, which enhances its purpose as a place for special gatherings.
The 27th and 28th floors, located in the narrow portion of the building atop the tower, are also for office use but have not yet been assigned to any Church department.
Until now, Church employees have been scattered in office buildings throughout downtown Salt Lake City. Some have been as far away as the Granite Mountain Vaults in Little Cottonwood Canyon and at Brigham Young University, forty miles to the south in Provo. Many people visiting Church headquarters have had to travel over a wide area to transact their business. But, happily, that’s all over now.
It has taken six separate moving companies to move thirty-six different departments out of sixteen buildings and put them all under one roof. With the notable exception of the General Church Distribution Center, now open in new quarters at 1999 West 1700 South, Salt Lake City, most Church agencies will be located in the new office building by mid-January.
The consolidation of departments in one place has done much to relieve crowded conditions that existed in other office areas. For example, with the removal of the Historian’s Department, the Missionary Department, and many of the Presiding Bishopric functions from the Administration Building at 47 East South Temple Street, more convenient working conditions will be provided for the General Authorities of the Church.
Amazingly enough, bids for the construction of the building were all within one percent of each other. The final bid went to Christiansen and Clyde Construction Company for $31,300,000. The cost per square foot is slightly less than that of the nearby Kennecott Building constructed six years ago. Considering inflation and the rise in construction rates, the building cost was astonishingly low.
Further dollar savings were made possible by the installation of a control unit that provides information regarding the amount of electricity in use throughout the structure. When the demands on electric power get too high, the operator can shut down nonessential motors, thus saving thousands of dollars monthly.
In addition, the stone window enclosures are not only an attractive architectural feature but they also reduce the glare of the sun on the windows and thereby help keep down the costs of air-conditioning.
When the building is filled to capacity, it will house over 2,000 employees. Presently, however, only 85 percent of the total useable space has been assigned, with the remaining 15 percent of the building space reserved for future expansion.
In the summer of 1973, landscapers will begin planting a garden on the plaza between the new building and the Church Administration Building. This open area will afford a spectacular view of the east facade of the Salt Lake Temple, thereby emphasizing this great sanctuary as the focal point of the Church’s building complex in Salt Lake City.
The highlight of the central garden will be a beautiful fountain and a reflecting pool that will mirror the granite relief maps of the eastern and western hemispheres on the south walls of the new structure. To members and nonmembers coming to Church headquarters from all over the globe, these maps will stand as silent symbols of the fundamental commitment of all Latter-day Saints to proclaim the message of the everlasting gospel to all nations of the earth.
The new home for the three Church magazines is on two floors of the General Church Office Building.
On the 23rd floor are offices for the editorial and art staffs of all three magazines. Anyone desiring to submit artwork, articles, poetry, or fiction for consideration by the editors may address contributions to the editorial department of either the Ensign, New Era, or Friend, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.
Magazine orders should be sent to the Church Magazine Subscription Fulfillment Department at the same address.
Visitors seeking information regarding any of the Church magazines may write or visit the offices on the 24th floor of the new building.
The First Office Building: Built in 1848 by Daniel H. Wells, superintendent of public works, the building measured 18 feet by 12 feet and had a slanting roof covered with boards and dirt. The exact site of this building is not known, but it functioned as the headquarters of the Church for two years.
Built between 1848 and 1850, this was the home of President Brigham Young and was located on East South Temple Street where the Elks Club building now stands, one block east of the present Church Administration Building.
Built in 1852 by Truman O. Angell, Church architect, this office, located between the Beehive and Lion houses on South Temple, served the First Presidency through the administrations of Presidents Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, and Joseph F. Smith. During this period—1852 to 1917—the Church membership increased from 70,000 to 488,046.
Built in 1917, this building measures 140 feet by 75 feet. Originally it housed offices for the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, the First Council of the Seventy, the Patriarch to the Church, the Church secretary, the trustee-in-trust offices and clerks, the Historian’s Office and library, the Genealogical Society, the General Church Board of Education, the Deseret Sunday School Union, the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association, the Church commissioner of education, and the Church architect.
Offices of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association, the Relief Society, the Primary Association, and the Presiding Bishopric were located in the Presiding Bishop’s Building at 40 North Main Street.
As the Church population grew and Church administration grew proportionally, the departments originally located in the Administration Building were relocated in nearby office buildings and remained scattered until the new General Church Office Building was finished in the fall of 1972. Since then most Church departments and agencies have again been brought together under one roof.